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Developmental delays more likely in children of obese parents

Tuesday 3rd January 2017
The children of obese parents are more likely to experience developmental delays, according to a new study. Image: lucato via iStock
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Dieticians working with obese adults may wish to advise their patients that they could be putting the developmental ability of their future children at risk unless they lose weight.

A new study carried out by doctors at the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development in the US found that the children of obese parents are at greater risk of suffering from developmental delays relating to areas including problem solving and motor skills.

Lead author of the study Edwina Yeung stated: "The previous US studies in this area have focused on the mother's pre and post-pregnancy weight.

"Our study is one of the few that also includes information about fathers, and our results suggest that dads' weight also has significant influence on child development."

The research saw the children of over 5,000 mothers tested for their developmental progress at the age of four months, with six follow-up tests occurring before they turned three. Meanwhile, both their mothers and fathers were asked about their general health and weight before and after they had fallen pregnant.

Following the investigation, the researchers were able to conclude that children born to obese mothers were almost 70 per cent more likely to have failed the motor skills test by the age of three compared to their counterparts with normal-weight mothers.

What's more, children with obese fathers were 75 per cent more likely to have failed a test designed to examine their social interaction skills by their third birthday, highlighting that it is not just women who need to adopt a healthier lifestyle if they want to give birth to a healthy baby, but also their partners.

This theory was further proven with evidence showing that three-year-olds with both an obese mother and father were nearly three times more likely to fail a simple problem solving test than their peers with healthier parents.

As a result, dieticians need to ensure they are encouraging patients who want to have children in the future to lose weight by adopting a healthier lifestyle in order to safeguard their own health, as well as that of their children.

Written by Martin Lambert

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