Prebirth link to cause of childhood obesity

February 1, 2009


You must have noticed the strenuous efforts the Government is making to get our children healthier. It is a real cause for concern as being overweight is now much more common in the under 10′s than ever before. There are probably many factors that influence this, including lack of exercise and a high-fat diet, but a new study has shown that there is also a factor that comes into play before birth.

It was reported this month in the Environmental Health Perspectives Journal that a study done in Flanders in Belgium has revealed that when a woman is pregnant there is a link between how many environmental pollutants she is exposed to and the weight of her baby, right up to the first three years of life.

Certain chemicals are known to disrupt the endocrine system, but it hasn’t been realised that even brief exposures early in life can be a problem. Body weight may be increased if mother and baby are exposed to like pesticides, chemicals such as dichlorodiphenyl dichloroethylene (DDE), hexachlorobenzene, dioxin-like compounds and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) – the ones found in aerosols. Children between one and three years of age were found to have a higher BMI (Body Mass Index) if exposed to these chemicals and more so if their mothers also smoked. For babies they tested blood from the umbilical cord to measure and identify any chemical pollutants at birth.


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