Body & Fitness

Could overweight pregnant women be cutting years off their baby’s life?

Scientists from a Belgian university say yes.

New research conducted by Hasselt University in Belgium suggest that women who are overweight while pregnant may risk the chance of having a baby who’s biologically older than a baby who’s born to a woman who’s of a healthy weight.

This is believed to put these biologically older children in danger of chronic diseases later in life, as well as a potentially reducing their life expectancy.

Scientists base this conclusion on the length of our telomeres, the bits of DNA that top our chromosomes.

In their study, they discovered that a pregnant woman’s Body Mass Index (BMI) has a significant impact on the length of their baby’s telomeres.

Our telomeres shrink as we get older, so if a child is born with short telomeres – which are linked to type-2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease – researchers found that there is a chance they could, ultimately, be more prone to these diseases and a shorter life.

While one of the researchers, Tim Nawrot, says he and his team “would need to conduct longer term studies, and follow these babies” to get definitive answers, Janet Lord from the University of Birmingham in the UK believes this is really about starting a conversation around the importance of a healthy weight during pregnancy.

“Maintaining a healthy body weight whilst trying to conceive will have long-term benefits for the baby, giving it a head start with longer telomeres,” she says.

If you have any concerns regarding your weight and/or pregnancy, contact your GP or LMC.

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