Obesity rates in this country have become more and more worrisome as the years have gone on. The obesity rate has doubled since the 1980s, with over 40 million children, under the age of 5, in the US, considered overweight. It is a common misconception that obesity comes after the child is born and is due to a lack of exercise and poor diet. While these are contributing factors, obesity can actually be carried down from the mother to the child.
A study was conducted by researchers at Laval University in Quebec that followed obese mothers and the effects obesity had on the children. They found that children who were born after their mothers had undergone gastric bypass surgery had different health risks and had less severe ones that the children that were born before the surgery was done. The research also showed that maternal obesity can alter the child’s DNA while in the womb, giving them a higher risk of developing obesity, diabetes, or cardiovascular disease themselves.
Twenty children, of obese mothers, were observed in a study. Their genetic makeup was compared to that of siblings who were born before the weight loss surgery and those who were born after the surgery. Between those two different groups, 5,698 genes had been altered. The specific gene pattern pointed to insulin resistance, which causes diabetes.
The study was a small one, but researchers hope that it will be one that helps pave the way toward other studies and help mothers make better diet and exercise choices while they are pregnant. The mean age of the children that were part of the study was 15 years old and they would like to study other age groups as well.