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Fat mums "have overweight children"

Pregnant women who are overweight are more likely to have children with high levels of body fat when they reach the age of nine, a study claims.

Researchers found that youngsters whose mothers have a high prepregnancy body mass index (BMI), or have fatter arms during late pregnancy, are significantly more likely to have a higher amount of body fat themselves at nine years old.

And women who smoke during pregnancy also have fatter children, the University of Southampton scientists said.

Earlier studies have already found that babies born to overweight women have a higher amount of body fat.

But these latest findings suggest that this carries on into childhood, with possible long-term implications for health.

Dr Catharine Gale, from the university, said: "We found that mothers with a higher prepregnant BMI, or a larger mid-upper arm circumference in late pregnancy, tended to have children with greater 'adiposity' or 'fatness', at the age of nine.

"Although the extent to which this is attributable to genetic factors, the influence of the mother's lifestyle on that of her child, or to physical changes to the child's fat mass brought on by their mother's 'adiposity' during pregnancy, is not yet known.

"We also noticed that children were likely to have greater fat mass if their mothers had smoked in pregnancy, if they had gained a lot of weight in infancy (especially boys), or had not been breastfed (especially girls)."

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