The terrible way being overweight can affect your unborn baby

Keeping healthy during pregnancy is really important for your baby's development, we all know that by now. From making sure that you're eating (and avoiding) the right foods and keeping fit to nor drinking or smoking (duh!), these days we know a lot more about keeping an unborn baby healthy before birth.

But a new study discovered a link between moms who are obese and a baby's brain development. Researchers found that cognitive deficits in premature babies can be traced to a number of mom-related factors, including a woman's pre-pregnancy weight.


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Published in the journal Pediatrics, researchers reported that 11% of the babies studied showed cognitive problems at age 2 and they traced it back to the mother's unhealthy weight before getting pregnant. They found that babies born to the women who were obese (with a body mass index, or BMI, over 30) before becoming pregnant had "double the risk of developing these cognitive issues."

The study's lead author, Dr. Jennifer Helderman, an assistant professor of pediatrics at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center, explains to TIME's Healthland:

"What parents need to know is that when it comes to a baby's brain development, everything is important — even factors prior to getting pregnant. And any changes that they can make toward a healthier lifestyle might improve the outcomes for their babies."

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Although I am at a pretty healthy weight these days, at one point I was only a couple pounds away from being classified as morbidly obese. It scares me that, had I continued where I was, I could have seriously endangered the brain of my future kids. Who knows what else science will discover in the future about a woman's weight and the effect it has on her baby? These new findings only encourage me to make sure I keep the weight off but it's still frightening to know how women may be endangering their unborn babies without even knowing it. I'll be trying really hard to make sure that it never happens to me, or my potential children.

If you are overweight and trying to get pregnant, do you plan to lose weight after these new findings?

Image via ~David/flickr