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Children born from obese mothers can suffer a host of health problems, including neuropsychiatric issues such as autism.

By United with Israel Staff

A recently published study by researchers at at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (BGU) and Soroka University Medical Center in Beersheba found that obesity during pregnancy can cause neuropsychiatric issues in children. These include autism and disorders related to eating, sleeping and motor skills. The long-term pediatric study was recently published in the Archives of Gynecology and Obstetrics.

Researchers tracked the births of 242,342 babies between 1991 and 2014 at Soroka Hospital. Of those studied, 3,290 children were born to obese mothers. The researchers concluded, “Maternal obesity is an independent risk factor for long-term neuropsychiatric morbidity of the offspring.”

Additionally, “Hospitalizations involving neuropsychiatric morbidities were higher in children born to obese mothers compared with those born to non-obese mothers.”

Children up to age 18 were tracked for the study.

“We found that compared to children born to non-obese mothers, this group had a higher rate of neuropsychiatric-related hospitalizations, with specific illnesses being more prevalent, including Autism Spectrum Disorders and other psychiatric issues,” said Dr. Eyal Sheiner, director of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Soroka and vice dean for student affairs at BGU’s Faculty of Health Sciences.

Prior to this study, obesity was known as a risk factor for pregnant women and their offspring. Potential outcomes include “future cardiovascular morbidity, ophthalmic complications like diabetic retinopathy, and even malignancies such as ovarian and breast cancer in the offspring,” according to the researchers’ statement.

Due to the findings, Dr. Sheiner commented, “It is therefore of great importance to consult, educate and take other measures of intervention to reduce pre-pregnancy obesity.”

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