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Children of obese mothers develop cancer earlier and more frequently

Increased cancer risk of children by obese mothers?

Researchers have now found that children born to obese mothers are more likely to develop cancer in early childhood.

The University of Pittsburgh's recent study found that children born to obese mothers are at an increased risk of developing cancer in their early childhood. The results of the study were published in the English journal "American Journal of Epidemiology".

Obesity of expectant mothers can increase the risk of cancer in their offspring. (Photo: Kletr /

BMI of expectant mothers influences the cancer risk of children

Using Pennsylvania birthing records, researchers found a correlation between the body mass index (BMI) of pre-maternal mothers and subsequent cancer diagnosis in their offspring, even after recognizing known risk factors such as the size of the newborn and the age of the mother were. There are not many avoidable risk factors for childhood cancer, the study authors report. The study results should motivate her to lose weight.

57 percent higher risk of leukemia detected

Nearly two million birth certificates and approximately 3,000 cancer registry records from the state of Pennsylvania were evaluated for the study. The researchers found that children born to severely obese mothers (BMI over 40) had a 57 percent higher risk of developing leukemia by the age of five.

Possible causes for the increased risk

Further analysis showed that larger women also gave birth to larger babies, and that women with a higher weight tended to be older, which are known to be risk factors for childhood cancer. The researchers speculate that the cause of the increased cancer risk of children in overweight pregnant women is related to insulin levels in the mother's body during fetal development – or possibly with changes in the DNA expression of the mother, which are passed on to her offspring.

Even low weight loss significantly reduced the risk

Importantly, not all levels of obesity lead to the same risk of cancer for children, the authors report. Among the obese women in the study, a higher BMI was associated with a higher cancer rate in their children. Thus even a small weight loss could contribute to a real reduction of the risk. Unfortunately, in many countries today there is a true obesity epidemic and more and more people are developing overweight and obesity. From a preventative point of view, maintaining a healthy weight is not only important for the mothers themselves, but also for their children. (As)


  • Shaina L Stacy, Jeanine M Buchanich, Zhen-qiang Ma, Christina Mair, Linda Robertson et al .: Maternal Obesity, Birth Size, and Risk of Childhood Cancer Development, in American Journal of Epidemiology (query: 07/11/2019), American Journal of epidemiology

. (TagsToTranslate) obesity (t) mothers (t) children (t) leukemia (t) cancer


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