New research suggests that you’re not the only one affected by the things you ingest or inhale: Babies born to women who smoked or were obese during pregnancy are much more likely to become overweight as young children.
Ohio State University researchers found that babies born to women who were overweight at the start of their pregnancies had up to three times the risk of becoming overweight themselves compared to children of women at normal weight. In mothers who smoked during their pregnancy, the risk of a child becoming overweight was nearly doubled.
Whether this association is linked to biological changes that occur in utero, or whether it’s from environmental exposure after the birth isn’t clear. However, study author Pamela Salsberry says that from her analysis, it looked as if both factors contributed to the early childhood excess weight gain.
“We don’t have physiological data, but our findings suggest that prenatal exposure can be seen as a risk factor. There’s such a strong relationship,” says Salsberry, a professor of nursing at Ohio State University.
The findings appear in the December issue of Pediatrics.