Influence of maternal obesity on the long-term health of offspring

KM Godfrey, RM Reynolds, SL Prescott, M Nyirenda, VWV Jaddoe, JG Eriksson, BFP Broekman

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In addition to immediate implications for pregnancy complications, increasing evidence implicates maternal obesity as a major determinant of off spring health during childhood and later adult life. Observational studies provide evidence for eff ects of maternal obesity on her off spring's risks of obesity, coronary heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, and asthma. Maternal obesity could also lead to poorer cognitive performance and increased risk of neurodevelopmental disorders, including cerebral palsy. Preliminary evidence suggests potential implications for immune and infectious-disease-related outcomes. Insights from experimental studies support causal eff ects of maternal obesity on off spring outcomes, which are mediated at least partly through changes in epigenetic processes, such as alterations in DNA methylation, and perhaps through alterations in the gut microbiome. Although the off spring of obese women who lose weight before pregnancy have a reduced risk of obesity, few controlled intervention studies have been done in which maternal obesity is reversed and the consequences for off spring have been examined. Because the long-term eff ects of maternal obesity could have profound public health implications, there is an urgent need for studies on causality, underlying mechanisms, and eff ective interventions to reverse the epidemic of obesity in women of childbearing age and to mitigate consequences for off spring.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)53-64
Number of pages12
JournalThe Lancet Diabetes and Endocrinology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2017
Externally publishedYes

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