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Obesity Could Be Linked to Mother's Early Puberty

Those born to mothers who attained early puberty tend to be overweight as children, say UK researchers.//

Such children could also grow rapidly. And this faster growth pattern is also linked to obesity in adulthood. The findings follow a study of 6,000 children by a Cambridge university team.

It is already known that age at which a girl has her first period - or reaches "menarche" - is largely inherited.

And women who start their periods early are at increased risk of obesity in later life, and are likely to be overweight even before puberty.

Knowing that rapid infancy weight gain, early puberty and obesity run together in families may help us identify which children to best target our efforts at right from birth, says Dr Ken Ong, lead researcher.

In the latest study, mothers who began their periods before age 11 were five times more likely to be obese than mothers who had their first period after the age of 15.

Children of mothers who had early first periods were taller by the age of nine and weighed more. Girls were also more likely to start their periods before the age of 11.

Those whose mothers had their first period under the age of 11 were three times more likely to be obese than those who started their periods after the age of 15.

The researchers also looked in more detail at growth measurements from birth to nine years in 900 children, and found that mothers' age at first period was associated with faster growth in weight and height in children up until the age of two years.

Children who have a fast growth pattern tend to start puberty earlier, but stop growing sooner - so they may not be particularly tall as adults.

"Beyond links to early puberty, most importantly this growth pattern appears to lead to an increased risk of obesity that lasts from childhood through to adult life."

He added there could be a genetic l
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