Nav: Home

Smoking in pregnancy and overweight may set up social divide in child obesity rates

May 09, 2016

Smoking during pregnancy and being overweight before becoming pregnant account for a sizeable proportion -- around 40% -- of the persistent social divide in childhood obesity rates, finds research published online in the Archives of Disease in Childhood.

It is well known that overweight and obesity are more common among children from disadvantaged backgrounds, but it's not known how much of a role early life factors might have in this.

The research team estimated the risk of overweight or obesity at the age of 11 among almost 12,000 children according to their socioeconomic circumstances at birth

All the children were part of the Millennium Cohort Study, which is tracking the long term health of children born in the UK between September 2000 and January 2002.

The children's weight and height were measured when they were 11 years old. The researchers also looked at the potential impact of a range of factors from responses to detailed questionnaires their mothers had completed.

These factors included whether the mother was overweight before the pregnancy and whether she smoked during it; the birthweight of the child; whether the child was born prematurely or by caesarean section; whether the child was breastfed; and how soon s/he was weaned onto solid foods.

In all, complete data were available at both time points for 9424 (80%) of the children.

By the age of 11 one in five of the children whose mums had fewer qualifications were overweight compared with one in four of those whose mums were better educated -- to degree level or higher.

After taking account of other influential factors, including black/Asian/mixed race, older maternal age (30 and above), overweight before pregnancy, smoking during pregnancy, high birthweight, absence of breastfeeding, and weaning onto solid foods before the child was 4 months old were all significantly associated with an increased risk of overweight by the time s/he had reached the age of 11.

Socioeconomic circumstances at birth, as measured by the mother's educational attainment, remained significant after adjusting for all other influential factors.

But when just weight before pregnancy and smoking during it were included, these two factors alone accounted for 40% of the difference in the risk of overweight between children whose mums had fewer qualifications and those whose mums were educated to at least degree level.

This suggests that "a considerable amount of the social inequalities in pre-adolescent overweight can be explained by these two variables," write the researchers.

They caution that the association between the mum's weight before pregnancy and the child's weight by the age of 11 may reflect influences that can't be modified, such as genes. And they point out that smoking may itself be a proxy for disadvantage.

However, the more heavily the mum smoked during her pregnancy, the greater was the risk of overweight in her child by the age of 11, even after taking account of other potentially influential factors.

"Policies to support mothers to maintain a healthy weight, breastfeed and abstain from smoking during pregnancy are important to improve maternal and child health outcomes, and our study provides some evidence that they may also help to address the continuing rise in inequalities in childhood overweight," they conclude.
-end-


BMJ

Related Obesity Articles:

Obesity is in the eye of the beholder
Doctors have a specific definition of what it means to be overweight or obese, but in the social world, gender, race and generation matter a lot for whether people are judged as 'thin enough' or 'too fat.'
Type 2 diabetes and obesity -- what do we really know?
Social and economic factors have led to a dramatic rise in type 2 diabetes and obesity around the world.
Three in 4 don't know obesity causes cancer
Three out of four (75 percent) people in the UK are unaware of the link between obesity and cancer, according to a new Cancer Research UK report published today.
Obesity on the rise in Indonesia
Obesity is on the rise in Indonesia, one of the largest studies of the double burden of malnutrition in children has revealed.
Obesity rates are not declining in US youth
A clear and significant increase in obesity continued from 1999 through 2014, according to an analysis of data on United States children and adolescents age 2 to 19 years.
More Obesity News and Obesity Current Events

Best Science Podcasts 2019

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2019. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Teaching For Better Humans
More than test scores or good grades — what do kids need to prepare them for the future? This hour, guest host Manoush Zomorodi and TED speakers explore how to help children grow into better humans, in and out of the classroom. Guests include educators Olympia Della Flora and Liz Kleinrock, psychologist Thomas Curran, and writer Jacqueline Woodson.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#534 Bacteria are Coming for Your OJ
What makes breakfast, breakfast? Well, according to every movie and TV show we've ever seen, a big glass of orange juice is basically required. But our morning grapefruit might be in danger. Why? Citrus greening, a bacteria carried by a bug, has infected 90% of the citrus groves in Florida. It's coming for your OJ. We'll talk with University of Maryland plant virologist Anne Simon about ways to stop the citrus killer, and with science writer and journalist Maryn McKenna about why throwing antibiotics at the problem is probably not the solution. Related links: A Review of the Citrus Greening...