A new study suggests that obesity during and after pregnancy may rewire a child’s brain, causing them to crave unhealthy foods later in life. Being overweight during pregnancy increases both mothers’ and infants’ health risks. A high body mass index (BMI) during pregnancy has been linked to congenital malformations, stillbirth, and, more recently, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.
In the article published in Molecular Metabolism, scientists from Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey, examined the effects of maternal overnutrition on a child’s adult weight and eating habits.
Three of the mice’s sisters were fed high-fat food during and after pregnancy, while the other three ate healthy food. After weaning, the researchers examined nearly 50 of their pups, who, as expected, were heavier or lighter at birth depending on their mother’s diet.
After several weeks of eating unlimited healthy food, the weights of the puppies converged. However, the differences began to reappear when they were all provided with constant access to a high-fat diet. All the puppies were overweight, but those born to obese mothers were significantly heavier than the others.
This is due to the fact that different nutrition during pregnancy and breastfeeding led to different connections between the hypothalamus and the amygdala.
The study suggests that it is possible for children of obese mothers to maintain a healthy weight by avoiding all junk food and eating a healthy diet. On the other hand, it demonstrates that eating moderate amounts of unhealthy foods can lead to overeating and obesity. According to the researchers, these findings could aid in the development of anti-overeating medications.
According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the best way to reduce the risk of obesity-related complications is to lose weight before becoming pregnant. However, it is still possible to have a healthy pregnancy with a high BMI through careful weight management, diet, exercise, and prenatal care.