New findings suggest parental obesity could impact developmental skills in offspring.
A recently released study from researchers at the National Institute of Health (NIH) is reporting the children of obese parents were more likely to fail at motor skill testing and social competence measurements, according to a release from eurekalert.org.
The study involved data from the previous Upstate KIDS study, originally intended to evaluate the impact of fertility treatments on child development through the age of three years. Over 5,000 women participated in the study approximately four months after giving birth between 2008 and 2010.
The parents, from the state of New York, were given a questionnaire, providing weight and health information about themselves and their partners, and their children were tested at four months initially, and re-tested six more times by the time they were three years old.
The findings showed that children born of obese mothers were 70 percent more likely to have failed the fine motor skills testing by age three, as were their counterparts born to non-obese mothers.
Additionally, those born to obese fathers were 75 percent more likely to fail the part of the testing involving personal-social domain, which indicates how well they could interact and relate to other children in their age group. Children born when both parents were obese were also three times as likely to fail the problem solving portion of the test as were their counterparts born to non-obese parents.
The first author on the study, Edwina Yeung, Ph.D., an investigator in NICHD’s Division of Intramural Population Health Research, commented, “The previous U.S. studies in this area have focused on the mothers’ pre- and post-pregnancy weight. Our study is one of the few that also includes information about fathers, and our results suggest that dad’s weight also has significant influence on child development.”
The authors said they did not find the reason for the findings, but noted that animal studies have shown that being obese during pregnancy could lead to inflammation that might have an impact on fetal brain development. They also noted not much research has been completed on paternal obesity’s influence on child development, but cited previous studies that suggest obesity in the father could affect the expression of genes in the sperm.
The result from the study were published in Pediatrics, and were conducted at the NIH’s Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development.