Study Results Show That Pregnancy Weight Gain Increases The Risk of Neurodevelopmental Disorders in Children

Study Results Show That Pregnancy Weight Gain Increases The Risk of Neurodevelopmental Disorders in Children

Pregnancy is a critical nine months for both mother and child. It’s a period where the mother must practice a healthier lifestyle, including keeping off weight. Gaining a few pounds is fine, especially for the baby’s protection, and it normally happens to pregnant women. However, you need to maintain a healthy weight to avoid certain complications. Too much maternal weight gain can make the mother susceptible to gestational diabetes. It can also lead to high blood pressure and complications during childbirth. Mothers are advised to talk with their doctor about proper weight management, because it’s also important to avoid being underweight.

Recently, new findings were shared regarding maternal weight gain and how it impacts both mother and child. A study has linked above-optimal maternal gestational weight gain to neurodevelopmental disorder risks in children. Weight increase is thought to be a factor in why infants acquire ASD, ADHD, and intellectual disability. Medical researchers have analyzed the risk factors of these disorders that led them to answers such as genetic and environmental factors, low birth weight, exposure to smoking, recreational drugs, medications during pregnancy, and premature birth.

Studies regarding complex health conditions are vital to establishing preventive measures. Maternal gestational weight gain has already been associated as a root cause of the neurodevelopmental disorder, but previous research failed to find proof. It was challenging to identify the association of GWG and gestational duration to neurodevelopmental disorders because the studies did not include the length of pregnancy as a contributor. Medical researchers from Sweden conducted the latest study, and their paper is published in the BMC Medical Journal. Their process considered the growth of the fetal brain and the external factors that shape the structural and functional parts throughout each trimester.

For this reason, the team observed the association between trimester-specific GWG and the progress of neurodevelopmental disorders. They analyzed the risk based on z-scores for GWG and the weight gain in the last two trimesters. The data were from Stockholm’s records of antenatal care and information on outcomes, exposures, and covariates from regional and national health and administrative registry. Records included infants born between January 2007 to December 2010. The two-part study consists of the initial analysis that considered all neurodevelopmental disorders. In the second analysis, the team focused on outcomes such as ADHD or ASD. Combinations were also included, like ADHD with ASD but without intellectual disability.

The overall GWG and the rate for the second and third trimesters were utilized to examine fetal exposure. GWG rates were divided into three categories called insufficient, optimal, and excessive. Confounding variables included the year of birth, sex, household income, parental region of birth, maternal age, mother’s educational level, interpregnancy interval, mother’s psychiatric history, and smoking habits. According to the results, a higher than optimal total GWG equates to a 19% rate increase in the risk of neurodevelopmental disorders. Whereas, a lower-than-optimal GWG indicates an increased rate of 12%.

Apart from that, the GWG rate impacts the risk of neurodevelopmental disorders. A slower GWG rate in the second trimester heightened the risk to 9%. Compared to a slower rate, the higher rate of GWG did not show any potential link to neurodevelopmental disorders. However, in the third trimester, the slower rate of GWG is not linked to risks, yet the higher GWG rate showed a 28% increase in possible complications. As for the second part of the examination, a low GWG rate in the second trimester, along with an excessive rate of GWG in the third trimester heightened the risk of the infant’s vulnerability to ADHD and intellectual disability.

Excessive GWG is likely linked to fetal neurodevelopment because of the impact of maternal and fetal adipose tissue buildup. High levels of adiposity are related to dysregulations of the pro-inflammatory cytokine, insulin, leptin, and glucose signaling, increased oxidative stress, and dysregulated signaling linked to dopamine and serotonin. However, low levels of GWG also negatively impact fetal brain development due to the lack of nutrition required for infant growth.

With these findings, the research has shown how GWG rates affect the risk of neurodevelopmental disorders. It’s a risk factor mothers and their physicians should talk about, especially in the second and third trimesters. The study has provided data that helped add another preventive measure that can aid in the infant’s healthy development inside the womb.

Ergil Ermeno

I strive to learn and excel more in content creation, including blog writing, graphic design, social media posts, and video editing. Photography is one of those skills that I take an interest in. However, I do not use my photography skills for work as I treat the activity as my hobby. My usual subjects are my pets and loved ones. The lovely fur babies at home make photography even more fun, especially now that I am in a remote setup for work.

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