How much weight a woman gains during pregnancy has no effect on the development of her child’s mental abilities, a new study finds.
Researchers from Nationwide Children's Hospital noted too much or too little weight gain during pregnancy can have negative consequences for fetuses and children including infant mortality.
But the new study, published in in the International Journal of Epidemiology, found no correlation between gestational weight gain and a healthy child’s cognitive abilities.
To reach their conclusions, researchers assessed the weight gain of pregnant women and the cognitive performance of their children at 4 and 7 years of age.
They found that the pounds a woman packed on during pregnancy – even in cases of extreme weight gain – had no measureable impact on a child’s mental abilities.
Researchers noted these results do not apply to preterm children.
"One challenge for studies examining gestational weight gain and child outcomes is separating the effect of gestational weight gain from confounders," said Sarah A. Keim, lead researcher with the Center for Biobehavioral Health at The Research Institute at Nationwide Children's Hospital. "Confounders such as maternal intelligence, whether the family environment promotes cognitive development, family diet and exercise and some genetic factors can influence neurodevelopment postnatal and also gestational weight gain."