WEDNESDAY, Dec. 12 (HealthDay News) -- Children whose mothers went into pregnancy overweight may have slightly lower scores on certain tests of verbal and numbers skills, a new study says.
The findings, reported online Dec. 10 in the journal Pediatrics, do not prove that their mothers' extra pounds are the reason for these decreased scores, and experts not involved in the study said it's too soon to suggest mothers-to-be lose weight for the sake of their kids' mental prowess.
But the results do add to studies showing that, for whatever reason, kids born to heavy mothers tend to have a somewhat lower IQ than their peers.
For the study, researchers led by Emre Basatemur, of the Institute of Child Health at University College London, combed data on nearly 20,000 U.K. children involved in an ongoing national study. The children took standard tests of verbal ability, numbers skills and reasoning at the age of 5, and again at age 7.
In general, children scored slightly lower if their mother was overweight going into pregnancy. The difference was very small, though: For every 10-point increase in mothers' body-mass indexes (BMI) -- an extra 60 pounds for an average-height woman -- kids' test scores dipped slightly. BMI is a measurement of body fat based on height and weight.
That dip in test scores was roughly equal to a 1.5-point decline in IQ.
Exactly what difference that could make in real life is unclear, said researchers not involved in the work. What's more, there is no way to know whether mothers' extra weight is to blame.
Basatemur acknowledged that many factors, both genetic and environmental, influence children's cognitive development. "The association observed in our study accounts for a small amount of the overall variation seen in children's cognition," he said.
Other experts emphasized that the study found only an association. "Obser
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