Pregnant women who eat excessively could be creating weight issues for their future offspring, it has been revealed.
Women who eat for two or three over the nine-month period could be causing problems in the womb that lead to the baby struggling with weight issues throughout their life.
The research reported in The Lancet medical journal shows that genes can no longer be held solely responsible for higher birth weight. Pregnancy weight gain alone can be blamed for bigger babies, figures reveal.
Heavy infants are known to be predisposed to obesity in later life. They may also have an increased risk of asthma and cancer.
Previous studies have demonstrated that mothers-to-be who gain a lot of weight during pregnancy are more likely to give birth to an overweight baby.
But it was not known to what extent this association could be explained by genetics and other factors besides weight gain itself.
The new research suggests that simply eating too much when pregnant, and gaining weight as a result, may be enough to put your baby at risk.
"These findings have important implications to general public health," said Dr David Ludwig, one of the US authors.
"It's appropriate for a baby to be born with some fat, but a baby born too fat indicates that the foetus developed in an abnormal environment during the most critical nine months of life."