Downstate LogoAccording to a novel study, the intrauterine environment may perhaps determine whether a child stands chances of becoming overweight.

Obesity could lead to insulin resistance, cardiovascular disease and pregnancy complications. In addition, it is known to be the chief contributor of causing death in developed nations. Weight-loss surgery is known to limit the amount of food a person can consume. Also, some of these operations seem to restrict the amount of food which could be digested.

It was observed that adolescent and young children of obese mothers who underwent weight-loss surgery prior to pregnancy have a lower occurrence of obesity. They also considerably seem to have improved cardio-metabolic markers when compared to siblings born before the weight-loss surgery.

Previous studies of obese pregnant women have revealed that obesity and its co-morbidities might be passed on to their children. This finding indicates that the intrauterine environment may be able to find out whether a child at birth is already destined to become obese.

“Our study confirms previous research showing that the intrauterine environment may be more important than genes and the post-natal environment when it comes to the association between maternal obesity and childhood obesity. Any medical or surgical treatment to reduce obesity and existing metabolic disorders before pregnancy can be an investment in the life of future offspring,” says co-author of the study John Kral, MD, PhD, of SUNY Downstate Medical Center in Brooklyn, N.Y.

This particular study is believed to have focused on women who had undergone biliopancreatic diversion (BPD) before they became pregnant. Supposedly, BPD changes the standard process of digestion by making the stomach smaller. Further, it directs food to avoid part of the small intestine which then results in less calorie absorption.

For the purpose of the study, experts examined nearly 49 mothers who had undergone BPD surgery and their 111 children who were between the ages of 2.5 to 25 years. All mothers in this study were noted to have children born before and then after their weight-loss surgery.

The findings revealed that children who were born after their mother underwent weight-loss surgery seem to have reduced birth weight and waist circumference. Also, they were noted to be three times less likely in becoming severely obese. Additionally, children born after their mother’s weight-loss surgery seem to have improved cardiovascular signs including reduced insulin resistance and lower cholesterol.

Kral further stated that, “To our knowledge, our paper is the first to demonstrate that dramatic maternal weight loss causes metabolic improvements in their children. Our findings show that obese women should be encouraged to lose weight before becoming pregnant, and then, once pregnant, should limit their weight gain. For those women interested in both surgical treatment and having children, we believe surgery should come first. Preventing obesity and treating it effectively in young women could prevent further transmission to future generations.”

This study is called as ‘Effects of maternal surgical weight loss on intergenerational transmission of obesity.’

The study findings will be published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism (JCEM).