Mother’s Extra Weight Makes Children At Risk Of Cancer

A woman’s weight during pregnancy may play a significant role in how children would develop or avoid cancer. A new study shows that children born to obese mothers have 57 percent higher risk of having the disease in early childhood.

Researchers from the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health and UPMC Hillman Cancer Center said women should monitor their body-mass index (BMI) prior to pregnancy. They found that mothers who had their BMI above 40 before giving birth had children at higher risk of developing leukemia. 

The increased chances of having the disease occurred in most children before the age of 5. The researchers said that problems with the obese mother’s insulin levels during fetal development potentially contributed to the cancer risk. 

The women may have also passed DNA expressions to their babies that may trigger the development of cancer, according to the study. However, the team has yet to determine what links the weight of women to the increased cancer risk of their children. 

For the study, the researchers analyzed nearly two million birth records and almost 3,000 cancer records in Pennsylvania filed between 2003 and 2016. The team published their report in the American Journal of Epidemiology.

The researchers found that the mother’s weight independently contributes to the risk of cancer in their babies. The higher BMI causes higher cancer rates in children.

But as excess weight adds to the risk, the women who reduced even small amounts of weight had children with lower chances of developing leukemia. 

"Right now, we don't know of many avoidable risk factors for childhood cancer," Shaina Stacy, lead study author and postdoctoral scholar in the Pitt Public Health Department of Epidemiology and UPMC Hillman Cancer Center, said in a statement. "My hope is that this study can be, in a way, empowering and also motivating for weight loss."

Jian-Min Yuan, a professor of epidemiology at Pitt Public Health, said their study comes amid the growing obesity epidemic in the U.S. The researcher recommended that women prioritize their maintaining a healthy weight for them and their children.

pregnant Women may experience change in moods and depression during pregnancy, which needs to addressed as it could put the baby and mother in harm's way. Pixabay