A US study suggests that babies of obese women may have a higher risk of developing health disorders than babies born to mothers of normal weight.
Smaller scale studies in the past have suggested obesity linked to birth defect, but the new study by University of Texas researchers is said to be the largest and most comprehensive study to date.
The researchers interviewed more than 10,000 new mothers who had babies with birth defects. The women were asked for their height and weight at the time they conceived.
They also studied another group of 5,000 women with healthy babies. The results suggested that seven different types of birth defect were more common when the mother was obese, reported the online edition of BBC News.
The disorders included heart defects, genital and bowel abnormalities and small or missing toes, fingers, arms or legs.
Amongst women of healthy weight, about three in 100 babies had serious birth defects. That rose to about four in 100 for obese mothers, the researchers said.
The researchers are however not sure how to explain their findings. The defects may be a direct result of obesity but could equally relate to other factors like diet.