For many young families getting started, pregnancy is or should be a very joyous time. Despite the annoyance and unpleasantness of morning sickness, the very thought of a new human life developing and growing inside a woman’s body is a very special time for the mom and dad. It should be a time of joy, bonding, togetherness and anticipation.
Unfortunately, it can also be a time of worry and uncertainty, mainly about the health of the unborn child. It’s important for pregnant moms to have checkups with their family physician or a good obstetrician – gynecologist (OB-GYN). They can prescribe the right vitamins and supplements and monitor the health of the baby and the mom. They can also issue warnings of things to avoid such as smoking, alcohol, drugs, etc.
One thing that so many expectant moms have in common is gaining weight during pregnancy. A common excuse given is that she is eating for two, which in some ways is true, but can also have dangerous consequences if not controlled.
One of those consequences is that many overweight and obese moms give birth to big babies that are easily prone to growing up overweight and obese. These can lead to many complications in life such as diabetes, heart disease, liver disease, kidney disease and stroke, even at an early age.
But did you know that the more overweight or obese a pregnant mom is, the greater the risk is of her baby having epilepsy. The more obese the mom, especially in the early stages of pregnancy, the greater the risk is of her child developing epilepsy, according to a new study:
“Kids are more likely to develop childhood epilepsy — a seizure disorder — if their mothers were overweight or obese early in pregnancy, a new study suggests.”
“The risk of epilepsy in children goes up as a mother’s weight goes up — reaching as high as 82 percent among kids of severely obese women, the researchers said.”
“‘This means more severe grades of obesity correspond to increasingly higher risk,’ said study co-author Dr. Eduardo Villamor. He’s a professor of epidemiology with the University of Michigan School of Public Health.”
The study took place in Sweden where researchers studied the medical histories of 1.4 million babies born between 1997 and 2011. Of those, over 7,500 developed some form of epilepsy by the age of 16.
From there, they linked the odds of a child developing epilepsy to the body mass index (BMI) of the mothers at around the 14th week of pregnancy. Body mass is a ratio of a person’s height and weight and often used to determine the amount of fat someone has. A normal BMI is generally thought to be between 18.5 to 24.5. People with a BMI of 25 to 29.9 are considered to be overweight and anything 30 and above is obese.
Based on their study, the risk if childhood epilepsy compared to BMI were as follows:
- 11 percent increased risk with overweight.
- 20 percent increased risk with grade I obesity.
- 30 percent increased risk with grade II obesity.
- 82 percent increased risk with grade III obesity.
The effects of a pregnant mother’s weight on her developing child were listed as:
“There are several potential ways a mother’s excess weight could increase risk of childhood epilepsy, Razaz and Villamor said.”
“Excess weight increases the risk of preterm birth and birth defects, which in turn increase risk of epilepsy, the researchers said. The baby also is more likely to suffer from trauma or low oxygen levels during birth with an overweight or obese mother. These factors might raise epilepsy risk.”
“Overweight or obesity also spurs on general inflammation in the mother’s body. This could possibly have an effect on their baby’s developing brain, Villamor added.”
“Dr. William Bell is a neurologist with Ohio State University’s Wexner Medical Center. He agreed that inflammation could be the culprit behind this increased risk.”
“‘Pregnancy is already an inflammatory state, and so is obesity. When you add those two together, a lot of bad things can happen,’ Bell said.”
Before every overweight or obese woman begins panicking and taking extreme measures to reduce their weight, Dr. Stephen Wolf, director of pediatric epilepsy at Mount Sinai Health System in New York City, says that the overall risk of childhood epilepsy is still relatively low.
If possible, it is better on the mom and the baby if excess weight can be lost, but don’t panic and do something drastic out of fear that may end up harming you and your baby. Consult with your doctor and follow his or her advice.