Maternal obesity could affect childs brain growth

(image) Washington: Moms-to-be, please try to shed the flab before giving birth, for a new study says that babies born to obese women are at risk for iron deficiency which may, in turn, affect infant`s brain development.

In non-pregnant adults, obesity-related inflammation hinders the transport of iron through the intestine, raising the risk of iron deficiency anaemia.

But, when a woman is pregnant, iron is transferred through the intestine to the placenta, but it is not known how maternal obesity affects newborn iron status. Foetal iron status is important as 50 per cent of the iron needed for infant growth is obtained before birth.

In their study, researchers University of Wisconsin- Madison. analysed 281 newborn babies and their mothers. The women`s body mass index was calculated before delivery, and a score of 30 or above was defined as obese. They determined infants` iron level by analysing umbilical cord blood.

The results showed evidence of impaired iron status in newborns of women who were obese.

"These findings are important because iron deficiency in infancy is associated with impaired brain development, and we should understand all risk factors for iron deficiency in infancy," said lead researcher Pamela J Kling.

The researchers are investigating why obesity during pregnancy is a risk factor for poorer iron status at birth.

"In non-pregnant adults, obesity has been linked to poorer dietary iron absorption and to diabetes, so both factors may contribute. Additionally, the link may be due to larger foetuses, because obesity during pregnancy results in larger foetuses, and iron needs are proportional to foetal size," she said.