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Prepregnancy Obesity Linked to Child Test Scores

Date: 10.5.2012 

Women who are obese before they become pregnant are at higher risk of having children with lower cognitive function -- as measured by math and reading tests taken between ages 5 to 7 years -- than are mothers with a healthy prepregnancy weight, new research suggests.

In this large observational study, prepregnancy obesity was associated, on average, with a three-point drop in reading scores and a two-point reduction in math scores on a commonly used test of children's cognitive function.

Previous research has suggested that a woman's prepregnancy obesity can have a negative effect on fetal organs, such as the heart, liver and pancreas. Because fetal development is rapid and sensitive to a mother's physiological characteristics, Ohio State University researchers sought to find out whether a mother's obesity also could affect the fetal brain.

The research appears online and is scheduled for future print publication in the Maternal and Child Health Journal.






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