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How obesity in pregnant women affects the baby

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How obesity in pregnant women affects the baby

Health offspring in overweight people

“High probability of becoming fat yourself”

As of: 8:45 a.m. | Reading time: 2 minutes

44 percent of overweight women in Germany become pregnant – with greater risks for the child

Quelle: Getty Images/James Porter

More and more pregnant women are overweight. This is not only dangerous for the mother, but especially for the baby. It has to adapt to malnutrition in its stomach – and becomes more susceptible to developing serious illnesses later on

Nutritionists are concerned that the number of pregnant women who are overweight is increasing worldwide. In the USA alone, it is assumed that around two thirds of women weigh too much weight at the beginning of pregnancy. “We are moving further and further in this direction in Germany,” said Regina Ensenauer, head of the Institute for Child Nutrition at the Max Rubner Institute in Karlsruhe.

The professor of medicine at the Heinrich Heine University in Düsseldorf, who practiced as a pediatrician for many years, warned of the consequences in a conversation: “The mother’s diet during pregnancy affects the unborn child.” The offspring of obese pregnant women have a large impact Likelihood of becoming fat yourself and developing secondary diseases such as type 2 diabetes or heart problems at an early stage.

In Germany, according to data from the federal evaluation “Perinatal Medicine: Obstetrics”, almost 44 percent of women go into pregnancy overweight or obese. In 2014 it was 35 percent. This leads to incorrect imprinting in the offspring, who have to adapt to overnutrition during their development in the womb, says the scientist. There is then an increased risk of developing earlier and more serious symptoms of obesity, type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular diseases later in life than with a healthy diet in the womb.

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“The first thousand days – from the beginning of pregnancy to the end of the second year of life – are crucial,” emphasized Ensenauer. “Also for what the child later likes. The taste buds are fully functional early in development, and the fetus absorbs substances from the mother’s diet through the amniotic fluid.”

Ensenauer is head of the PEACHES study (Programming of Enhanced Adiposity Risk in CHildhood – Early Screening), which has been running since 2010 and is carried out in cooperation with the Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich. The long-term study examines over years the influence of overnutrition and high body mass index (BMI) in pregnant women on the development of obesity and secondary diseases in their offspring. More than 1,700 mother-child pairs are taking part in the study.

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