Research: Parental Obesity Tied to Developmental Delays

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Obesity in parents may be an indicator for developmental delays in children.  

Obese Family

Obese Family

We all know that obesity is not good for the individual and that families who are overweight tend to brood children that are overweight, but is your weight bad your children’s health.  Although the research is not definitive, there is growing evidence that there may be a link between maternal and paternal obesity and development delays.  

Research Studies on Obesity and Developmental delays:

  1. Maternal obesity may be tied to development delays in their offspring.  This si based on the results of a data analysis of data from over 500,000 patients in the New York City area.  I know it is not a placebo controlled trial, but that could be rather unethical for this study if there is a definitive link.  The study found that maternal obesity is associated with increased risk of developmental delay in offspring.  In particular, maternal obesity is not only associated with increased risk of developing moderate or severe cognitive and physical delays but also an increased risk for global developmental delays. While the evidence does not indicate causation, there is a growing body of information reporting an association between maternal obesity and neurodevelopmental delays in offspring[1].
  2. Obesity in either parent is tied to developmental delays.  In a soon to be release article from Pediatrics of February of 2017, Yeung et al looked at the same data from New York and found that children of obese mother tend to have delays in fine motor skills.  Not to leave fathers out, children fo obese father tended to have social delays[2].  
  3. Obese toddlers have a higher risk of having developmental delays.  Children of obese parents are at a higher risk of being obese themselves.  There is a certain degree of genetics and learned behavior in developing obesity.  Research from 2015 shows that obese toddlers are at a higher risk of developing motor and mental developmental delays[3].  

Recommendations on Parental Obesity and Child Development:

The evidence is not conclusive.  It is just a hint at the need for further research, but if you are considering having children, us it as further evidence to become more healthy and lose weight as you try to conceive.  If you have infants and toddlers, it is beneficial for the development to promote a healthy lifestyle.  Talk to you medical provider about promoting a healthy diet, exercise, and weight in yourself and your children.  

Footnotes
[1]Duffany et al., “Maternal Obesity: Risks for Developmental Delays in Early Childhood.”
[2]Yeung et al., “Parental Obesity and Early Childhood Development.”
[3]Cataldo et al., “Effects of Overweight and Obesity on Motor and Mental Development in Infants and Toddlers.”
Cataldo, R, J Huang, R Calixte, AT Wong, J Bianchi-Hayes, and S Pati. “Effects of Overweight and Obesity on Motor and Mental Development in Infants and Toddlers.” Pediatric Obesity 11, no. 5 (October 1, 2016): 389–96. [PubMed]
Duffany, KO, KH McVeigh, TS Kershaw, HS Lipkind, and JR Ickovics. “Maternal Obesity: Risks for Developmental Delays in Early Childhood.” Maternal and Child Health Journal 20, no. 2 (February 1, 2016): 219–30. [PubMed]
Yeung, Edwina H. , Rajeshwari Sundaram, Akhgar Ghassabian, Yunlong Xie, and Germaine Buck Louis. “Parental Obesity and Early Childhood Development.” Pediatrics, 201701. http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/early/2016/12/29/peds.2016-1459?sso=1&sso_redirect_count=1&nfstatus=401&nftoken=00000000-0000-0000-0000-000000000000&nfstatusdescription=ERROR%3a+No+local+token. [Source]
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About the Author

ChuckH

I am a family physician who has served in the US Army. In 2016, I found myself overweight, out of shape, and unhealthy, so I made a change to improve my health. This blog is the chronology of my path to better health and what I have learned along the way.

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