"These (fat tissue-derived) hormones and inflammatory factors tend to have appetite/satiety regulating effects early on, and may exert their negative effects on growth both during gestation and through passage into the breast milk during postnatal development as well," noted study senior author Ellen Demerath, who was Larson Ode's university advisor, in the news release.
Moreover, the researchers said overweight or obese pregnant women could be inundating their babies with free fatty acids while in the womb. This, in turn, could slow growth hormone production in the pituitary gland in their brains. After birth, the baby's pituitary gland is not able to produce enough growth hormone on its own.
"It's just not mature yet," Larson Ode explained.
The researchers said their findings need confirmation in a larger study.
According to a 2010 study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, 60 percent of U.S. women of childbearing age are overweight or obese.
The U.S. National Institutes of Health provides more information on obesity.
-- Mary Elizabeth Dallas
SOURCE: University of Iowa, news release, Aug. 6, 2012
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