Pre-pregnancy obesity could affect premature babies’ brains

Overweight mums-to-be double chances of having a premature baby with brain development difficulties, study suggests

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Mums of prem babies who are overweight when they conceive up their chances of having a baby with cognitive issues by 50%, a new study suggests.

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A study saw 921 premature babies, born before 28 weeks, monitored until the age of 2. Of these, 11% were found to have cognitive problems. Researchers suggested that mums with a body mass index (BMI) over 30 when pregnant, upped the risk of cognitive problems by 50%, reports Time magazine. 

Researchers admit there’s no hard and fast rule as to how pre-pregnancy obesity affects a feotus. However, one theory the extra weight keeps potentially destructive immune cells high, which ultimately filter through to the developing baby.

Lead author Dr Jennifer Helderman, an assistant professor of pediatrics in the US, urges women to consider their pre-pregnancy health as much as their pregnancy health. Addressing a weight issue is as important as giving up smoking and drinking, Jennifer claims. “That’s not to say that all normal weight women have healthy babies without cognitive issues, but such deficits are more common among those born premature,” Jennifer said.

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