This Is Why Heavier Moms-to-Be Tend to Have Bigger Babies

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By Amy Norton
HealthDay ReporterTUESDAY, March 15, 2016 (HealthDay News) — Being overweight or obese during pregnancy may mean higher weights in newborns, a new study suggests.Researchers have long known that heavier moms-to-be tend to have bigger babies. But it hasn’t been clear that the extra pounds, per se, are the reason.So the new study, reported March 15 in the Journal of the American Medical Association, dove into the genetics of the issue.Using genetic information from more than 30,000 women, researchers found that women who carried more obesity-related gene variants tended to give birth to bigger babies.The same was true when the researchers considered mothers’ genetic vulnerability toward having high blood sugar—a precursor to type 2 diabetes. On the other hand, women with many gene variants tied to high blood pressure tended to have smaller newborns.The findings offer good evidence that heavier weight and higher blood sugar in moms directly cause higher birth weight, according to Rachel Freathy, one of the researchers on the study. She’s a fellow at the University of Exeter Medical School, in the United Kingdom.”Genetic association is stronger evidence of cause-effect than just measuring body mass index, glucose [blood sugar] or blood pressure,” Freathy explained.That’s because a woman’s weight is influenced by education, diet, smoking, and other lifestyle factors, Freathy said—and those factors also affect her baby’s birth weight.”But a genetic ‘score’ for blood pressure, [obesity] or glucose is not influenced by these lifestyle factors,” she said.The findings are based on genetic data from women who took part in 18…

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