Obesity is a major public health concern. In western countries, the prevalence of obesity in pregnant women has strongly increased, with reported prevalence rates reaching 30%. Also, up to 40% of women gain an excessive amount of weight during pregnancy. Recent observational studies and meta-analyses strongly suggest long-term impact of maternal obesity and excessive weight gain during pregnancy on adiposity, cardiovascular and respiratory related health outcomes in their children. These observations suggest that maternal adiposity during pregnancy may program common health problems in the offspring. Currently, it remains unclear whether the observed associations are causal, or just reflect confounding by family-based sociodemographic or lifestyle-related factors. Parent-offspring studies, sibling comparison studies, Mendelian randomization studies and randomized trials can help to explore the causality and underlying mechanisms. Also, the potential for prevention of common diseases in future generations by reducing maternal obesity and excessive weight gain during pregnancy needs to be explored.
Keywords: Obesity; childhood outcomes; prevention; weight gain.
© 2014 Nordic Federation of Societies of Obstetrics and Gynecology.