Obesity during pregnancy can affect IQ of sons, not daughters

obesity during pregnancy, child development

When a pregnant mother is obese, it can affect her son's health, says study. (Source: Getty Images)

Obesity during pregnancy can affect the male offspring's physical and mental development later in life, says a new study.

Published in the journal BMC Pediatrics, the study found that obesity in pregnant mothers was linked to lagging motor skills in preschoolers and lower IQ in middle childhood for sons. Researchers concluded this after surveying mothers and children both during pregnancy and when the kids were between three and seven years of age.

The researchers also pointed out that such an effect was not noted in girls.

"What's striking is, even using different age-appropriate developmental assessments, we found these associations in both early and middle childhood, meaning these effects persist over time," said study co-author Elizabeth Widen from the University of Texas at Austin in the US.

"These findings aren't meant to shame or scare anyone. We are just beginning to understand some of these interactions between mothers' weight and the health of their babies," added Widen.

Also Read| A nutritional checklist for expecting mothers

Speculating the possible reasons behind the link between obesity during pregnancy and child development, researchers argued that dietary and behavioural differences, and the body processes of people with extra weight may be the driving factors. These factors, according to them, include inflammation, metabolic stress, hormonal disruptions and high amounts of insulin and glucose.

Also Read| An only child may have higher risk of obesity, says research

The scientists said that a nurturing environment in a child's home — where the child was given books and toys and parents interacted with them well — was found to lessen the negative impact of obesity.