HealthDay News — Maternal and paternal obesity are associated with delays in early childhood development, according to a study published in Pediatrics.

Edwina H. Yeung, PhD, from the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development in Rockville, Maryland, and colleagues examined the correlation between maternal obesity and childhood neurodevelopment using data from Upstate KIDS, which recruited mothers from New York State at about 4 months postpartum. When children were 4, 8, 12, 18, 24, 30, and 36 months of age, parents completed the Ages and Stages Questionnaire (ASQ), which is validated to screen for delays in 5 developmental domains. Data were included for 3759 singletons and 1062 non-related twins with 1 or more ASQs returned.

The researchers found that children of obese mothers had increased odds of failing the fine-monitor domain compared with normal/underweight mothers (adjusted odds ratio, 1.67). After adjustment for paternal body mass index (BMI) the correlation persisted (adjusted odds ratio, 1.67). The odds of failing the personal-social domain were increased with paternal obesity (adjusted odds ratio, 1.75) and attenuated after adjustment for maternal obesity (adjusted odds ratio, 1.71). Having both parents with a BMI ≥35 kg/m² correlated with increased likelihood of failing the problem-solving domain (adjusted odds ratio, 2.93).

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“Findings suggest that maternal and paternal obesity are each associated with specific delays in early childhood development, emphasizing the importance of family information when screening child development,” the authors wrote.


Yeung EH, Sundaram R, Ghassabian A, Xie Y, Louis GB. Parental obesity and early childhood development. Pediatrics. 2016; doi:10.1542/peds.2016-1459.