“We wanted to understand whether different patterns of weight change during pregnancy affect a child’s development over time or ability,” said Beth Widen, associate professor of nutritional sciences at UT Austin. ability to develop excess adipose tissue in children”. “For boys, we didn’t really notice much difference in their weight patterns and body size over time. But for girls, we saw some striking differences. This tells us there are gender differences in this area of child development.”
Weight change during pregnancy generally followed four distinct patterns in this study. One group of pregnant women in the study lost weight in the first trimester, gained it moderately during the three months, and gained it rapidly during the three months. The second group gained weight slowly in all three trimesters.
The third group gained weight slowly during the first trimester and gained moderate weight until the end of pregnancy. The last group gained weight rapidly in the first trimester, followed by slow weight gain in the second trimester and moderate weight gain in the third trimester.
The researchers found that girls in the fourth group in this study – who gained weight more rapidly in early and late pregnancy – had the highest body mass index, largest waist circumference, and ratio body fat percentage was highest between the ages of 5 and 14. In contrast, girls were born to study participants from the first group – who lost weight during the first trimester, and gained moderate in the second trimester and rapidly increasing in the third trimester – had the lowest BMI, waist circumference and body fat percentage in the study. .
There was no clear distinction between pregnancy weight and childhood body composition for boys in the study. Widen speculates this may be due to gender differences in growth and development, in addition to differences in how boys and girls respond to prenatal exposure.
The researchers stress that finding a pattern in children’s body composition from pregnancy and throughout childhood is not the same as uncovering the cause, so further research is needed. Widen believes that changes in weight during pregnancy and the relationship with those weight changes in infants and children is an area of further research.
“This study shows us that there can be sex differences in the make-up of children based on what they’re exposed to in utero,” Widen said. “But, really, we believe that only a small fraction of the weight gain during pregnancy can be consciously altered – especially in the adipose tissue – since much of the weight change is necessary. It is possible that these findings are just the beginning of research that can help us understand more about risk factors for childhood obesity and may help us develop guidelines weight gain is more personally tailored to support the pregnancy.”