Obesity In Pregnancy Raises Epilepsy Risk In Children, Study Finds

By Amanda Moore, Parent Herald April 05, 04:00 am
Experts found links that obesity in pregnancy likely causes epilepsy in babies.
(Photo : Chris Jackson/Getty Images)

Medical experts long told mothers that obesity in pregnancy is unhealthy. Now, there's another reason why pregnant moms have to ensure a healthy weight gain. A new study found links being overweight while pregnant raises epilepsy risk in children.

The experts published their findings on epilepsy risk in the JAMA Neurology journal. They cited the more a pregnant mom gained weight while pregnant, the higher the risk are for epilepsy development in babies.

The experts conducted their study among 1.5 million babies born in 1997 to 2011 in Sweden. Of these babies, some 7,592 babies or 0.5 percent have epilepsy.

The risk of epilepsy was at 11 percent among moms whose body mass index (BMI) fell at 25-29. The risk rose to 20 percent among moms with less than 35 BMI. The risk also rose to 30 percent among moms with less than 40 BMI. Severely obese moms, on the other hand, raised their baby's risk at 82 percent, as per ABC Net Australia.

Over 50 million people suffer from epilepsy worldwide and doctors were unable to determine the cause of the seizures in 60 percent of these cases. The study, however, found no direct cause-and-effect links between a mom's pregnancy weight and her baby, but the findings suggested it could bear significant effects.

"Given that overweight and obesity are potentially modifiable risk factors, prevention of obesity in women of reproductive age may be an important public health strategy to reduce the incidence of epilepsy," study author Neda Razaz said, as per Med Page Today. Experts suggest pregnant moms and their doctors discuss caloric reduction in the diet or recommend physical activities. It might also be necessary to consider pre-pregnancy weight loss options or interventions before couples decide to conceive.

Some experts, however, noted the risk remain low despite the findings. Still, they don't discount that good diet and healthy pregnancy weight gain are important. Learn more about obesity in pregnancy in the video below.

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