Obesity is defined as having a Body Mass Index (BMI) of 30 or greater. Maternal obesity refers to obesity of a woman during pregnancy. Maternal obesity has a significant impact on maternal metabolism and hence on offspring development. Insulin resistance, glucose homeostasis, fat oxidation and amino acid synthesis are all disrupted by maternal obesity.
About 25% of pregnant American women are classified as obese. Maternal obesity is associated with increased odds of pregnancies affected by congenital anomalies, including neural tube defects and spina bifida. The chances of having neural tube defects in the newborn of an obese woman has been shown to be twice that of a non-obese pregnant female. Some other anomalies that were increased among mothers with obesity included septal anomalies, cleft palate, cleft lip and palate, anorectal atresia, hydrocephaly, and limb reduction anomalies.
Pregnant obese women put their children at higher risk of asthma
Prof Adrian Lowe from the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute, University of Melbourne found that mothers who were very obese i.e. with...
a body mass index of 35 and over, had a 61% increased risk of their children developing asthma beyond the age of 8. The study covered over 129,000 mothers in Stockholm and their 189,000 children. There was a clear increased risk of childhood asthma, medication use and hospitalization for the babies delivered by such women.
It was further emphasised that maternal obesity also increases the child’s risk of obesity, which influences the infant’s immune system and its responses toward allergies. “The results suggest that campaigns to reduce obesity prior to conception may have a beneficial effect on childhood asthma,” Lowe said.