According to a new study, children of fat parents may be a slow-learner, slow-mover and low-skilled. Researchers at the National Institute of Health show that the offspring of overweight mums and dads have a higher risk of being stupid, socially incompetence, and clumsy.
The investigators found that compared to mothers of a ‘normal’ weight, obese mum’s gave birth to children who were 70 percent more likely to fail a motor skill test –the ability to control movement of small muscles, such as those in the fingers and hands, by age 3.
Children of obese fathers were 75 percent more likely to fail measures of social competence, which determines how well they were able to relate to and interact with others by age three.
For children born to two obese parents, their risk of developing with poor problem solving skills increased dramatically.
The shocking links are revealed at a time when more than 67 per cent of men and 58 per cent of women are considered obese.
The study, appearing in Pediatrics, was conducted by a team from the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) in the US. They analyzed data from more than 5,000 woman and their children in New York State.
Each was assessed when their child was four months old, and then another six times before they reached the age of three.
“The previous U.S. studies in this area have focused on the mothers’ pre- and post-pregnancy weight,” said the study’s first author, Edwina Yeung, Ph.D., an investigator in NICHD’s Division of Intramural Population Health Research. “Our study is one of the few that also includes information about fathers, and our results suggest that dad’s weight also has significant influence on child development.”
It is not known why parental obesity might increase children’s risk for developmental delay. The authors note that animal studies indicate that obesity during pregnancy may promote inflammation, which could affect the fetal brain. Less information is available on the potential effects of paternal obesity on child development. The authors added that some studies have indicated that obesity could affect the expression of genes in sperm.
If the link between parental obesity and developmental delays is confirmed, the authors wrote, physicians may need to take parental weight into account when screening young children for delays and early interventional services.