New! Sign up for our free email newsletter.
Science News
from research organizations

Babies born big more likely to become obese as children, study finds

By identifying at-risk infants early, doctors could work with parents to prevent weight gain

Date:
July 12, 2017
Source:
University of Virginia Health System
Summary:
Infants born with a high birthweight are more likely to become obese as children, a new study suggests. By identifying at-risk infants early, doctors could work with parents to prevent weight gain and the health problems obesity brings.
Share:
FULL STORY

Infants born with a high birthweight are more likely to become obese as children, a new study from the University of Virginia School of Medicine suggests. The researchers say pediatricians may want to counsel parents of high birthweight babies early on to prevent the onset of obesity and the health problems it eventually brings.

The study looked at 10,186 children across the country, both those born at term and those born prematurely. The children born with high birthweight at term were more likely to be obese by kindergarten than their average-weight counterparts. A similar finding held true in the children born prematurely, starting in first grade.

"Infants born with higher birthweight appeared to be at risk from a young age," said researcher Sarah Miller. "These children may benefit from early attention."

Childhood Obesity

Children born with a large birthweight (above 10 pounds at term) were 69 percent more likely than average weight children to be obese by kindergarten and continuing at least through second grade, the researchers determined. By second grade, the last grade examined, 23.1 percent of children born with high birthweight were obese. In comparison, children born at the expected weight had an obesity rate of only 14.2 percent by second grade.

Of the premature infants born with high weight for gestational age, 27.8 percent were obese by second grade. Those born at the expected weight had an obesity rate of only 14.2 percent. Those born below the expected weight had an obesity rate of 28 percent.

The study found these relationships despite adjusting for factors such as socioeconomic status but did not look at other factors that contribute to the children's obesity. The researchers suggested that pediatricians might give special attention to parents of high birthweight babies, possibly counseling them on lifestyle habits that could prevent weight gain from a young age, such as reducing television viewing, encouraging physical activity and avoiding sugary drinks and juice.

"We are hopeful that these data may help physicians and families make healthy lifestyle decisions for their young children to avoid later weight problems," said researcher Mark DeBoer, MD, of the UVA Children's Hospital.

Overall, almost 17 percent of U.S. children are obese and an additional 15 percent are overweight.


Story Source:

Materials provided by University of Virginia Health System. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. N. Kapral, S. E. Miller, R. J. Scharf, M. J. Gurka, M. D. DeBoer. Associations between birthweight and overweight and obesity in school-age children. Pediatric Obesity, 2017; DOI: 10.1111/ijpo.12227

Cite This Page:

University of Virginia Health System. "Babies born big more likely to become obese as children, study finds." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 12 July 2017. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/07/170712110518.htm>.
University of Virginia Health System. (2017, July 12). Babies born big more likely to become obese as children, study finds. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 21, 2024 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/07/170712110518.htm
University of Virginia Health System. "Babies born big more likely to become obese as children, study finds." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/07/170712110518.htm (accessed July 21, 2024).

Explore More

from ScienceDaily

RELATED STORIES