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Obese fathers may also affect children's development, says study

Xinhua | Updated: 2017-01-03 15:38
WASHINGTON - Daddies, watch your waistline!

Women have been warned of the risks of obesity during pregnancy, but a new study shows obese fathers may also influence children's development, local media reported Monday.

"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," said lead researcher Edwina Yeung from the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development in the United States.

The study, published in The Journal of Pediatrics, found that children of obese parents may be at risk of developmental delays, CNN reported Monday.

The researchers looked at 4,821 children from 4 months old to the age of 3, between 2008 and 2010, and found specific effects on children, depending on which parent is obese.

The findings showed that compared to children of normal-weight mothers and apart from health related issues, children with obese mothers were more likely to fail tests of fine motor skill, which is the ability to control movement of small muscles, such as those in fingers and hands.

Children with obese fathers were also more likely to fail measures of social competence, which indicate how well they were able to relate to and interact with others.

In addition, children born to extremely obese couples were much more likely to fail problem-solving tests.

However, it is not yet known how parental obesity might increase children's risk of development delays.

"Our study wasn't designed to prove cause and effect. At this point, we only have correlations between parents' BMI (Body Mass Index) and children's scores on a screening questionnaire," Yeung said.

The authors noted that studies on animals have indicated that obesity during pregnancy may promote inflammation, which could affect the fetal brain.

"We know that obesity greatly increases the risk for such conditions as heart disease, diabetes and stroke. For anyone, male or female, pregnant or not, it makes sense to attain a healthy weight," Yeung said.


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