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Mother's Lifestyle Big Indicator of Child's Weight

Mother's Lifestyle Big Indicator of Child's Weight

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Dr. Kim Mulvihill ReportingHere's another one you can blame on mom. New research adds to the growing evidence that a woman's lifestyle during and even before pregnancy has a major impact on a child's health, specifically the risk of obesity.

It's back to the old debate -- nature versus nurture. While the findings are not entirely new, they do point a finger at some prenatal factors. A child's risk of obesity may begin long before they are born. A study of more than 3,000 children suggests women who are overweight in the months before getting pregnant are at a higher risk of having a child who struggles with their weight.

Ellen Rome, M.D., Pediatrician, Cleveland Clinic: "Having a mom that smokes, having a baby end up overweight at two, all of these things add up to overweight later."

The study found the risk was greatest for African American and Hispanic children. And while mom's behavior counts, it's never too late to change.

Ellen Rome, MD: "So we need to help train families on what is good nutrition for their baby and for their toddler and for their younger child, and then for their older child."

Sooner is better than later. The study also suggests that a child's weight at two or three is a pretty good predictor of what their weight will be as they grow older.

On a bright note, breastfeeding reduced the risk of obesity by about five percent.

The study is published in The Journal of Pediatrics.

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