Tag Archives: Obesity and Brain Development

Obesity may pose brain development risks for newborns

FoodFacts.com tries to keep our community informed about the latest news regarding the obesity epidemic plaguing the United States and the rest of the world. There’s been so much news in recent months about the causes and effects of obesity. And today, we found new information regarding the risks to babies of obese moms.

It appears that genes found in the amniotic fluid of obese pregnant women suggest that the brains of their babies are developing differently than the babies of mothers of typical weight. With about one-third of American women suffering from obesity when they become pregnant, this is of particular concern.

A new study from Tufts University in Boston extends information found in previous research that sought to pinpoint differences in the fetuses of typical-weight and obese women. Such studies have found an association between a mother’s obesity and autism and ADHD in their children.

As a fetus develops, its brain cells don’t just multiply … some of them also die. It’s a necessary process that rids the growing brain of unnecessary cells. That process is called apoptosis. Research in rats has shown brain differences (including apoptosis) between the fetuses of obese and normal-weight rodents.

This new, small study looked for changes like this in the amniotic fluid of human mothers. The amniotic fluid gives scientists an important view of fetal brain development.

Researchers analyzed the amniotic fluid samples from 8 women who were obese according to their body mass index (BMI) and 8 women of typical weight. Each of these women had undergone an amniocentesis for unrelated reasons. Both groups of women were of similar ages and at the same stages in their pregnancies. In total, between both groups, the mothers were carrying 4 male and 4 female fetuses.

The analysis showed that in the amniotic fluid samples of obese women, the genes identified favored decreased apoptosis. So the appropriate death of some of the developing fetus’s brain cells was lower for the obese mothers’ fluid samples.

This new study was very small, so it’s much too early to conclude that the brains of babies born to obese women are abnormal. Researchers noted that the next best step is to compare brain images of the developing fetuses of obese and typical-weight mothers in order to get a clearer view of the effects of the observations.

Regardless of the small size of the study, or further steps taken to arrive at more certain conclusions, FoodFacts.com wants to emphasize that obesity’s affects are many, varied and severe. And this research points out that those affects may not be limited simply to the obese person. Share this with anyone in your network who you feel may benefit from it. And read much more here: http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/779429