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Undoing the 'Big Baby' Trend
Date:3/1/2009

As infant weights rise, parents are urged to take steps early to prevent obesity

SUNDAY, March 1 (HealthDay News) -- Overweight children, teenagers and adults aren't the only Americans with a weight problem these days. The trend toward bigger and bigger babies is drawing concern from health experts as well.

Today, American infants up to 6 months of age are 59 percent more likely to be overweight than were babies born 20 years ago, a recent study found.

And though chubby babies might be viewed as cute and healthy, parents need to think about preventing obesity at the earliest stages of life, health experts are warning. That means paying attention not only to infant weights, but also to a mother's weight before conception and her weight gain during pregnancy.

"A mother's weight gain during pregnancy, particularly gaining more than is recommended, is associated with an increased likelihood of childhood obesity," said Dr. Christine M. Olson, professor of community nutrition at Cornell University, in Ithaca, N.Y.

Olson's own research found that to be true. She followed 208 mother-child pairs and found that excess weight gained during pregnancy -- meaning more than 25 to 35 pounds for a woman who began pregnancy at a normal weight -- increased the risk of her child being overweight at 3 years of age. She defined overweight at age 3 as weighing more than 85 percent of children at that age.

About 40 percent of the children born to mothers who were overweight or obese in early pregnancy were overweight by age 3, whereas just 24 percent of those born to mothers whose pregnancy weight was normal or below normal were overweight by age 3.

The impact was greater among women who were overweight or obese before they became pregnant.

The associations ring true, said Dr. Frank R. Greer, a professor of pediatrics at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health and chairman o
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