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Early pregnancy weight gain associated with childhood epilepsy

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Increased risk for childhood epilepsy was associated with maternal overweight or obesity in early pregnancy in a study of babies born in Sweden, according to a study published online by JAMA Neurology.<br />

*High fat, high sugar diet during gestation period causes health complications

Increased risk for childhood epilepsy was associated with maternal overweight or obesity in early pregnancy in a study of babies born in Sweden, according to a study published online by JAMA Neurology.

The cause of epilepsy is poorly understood and in most cases a definitive cause cannot be determined. Maternal overweight and obesity have increased globally over time and there is growing concern about the long-term neurologic effects of children exposed to maternal obesity in pregnancy, according to the report.

Dr. Neda Razaz of the Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden, and coauthors conducted a nationwide study that included more than 1.4 million live singleton births in Sweden to examine early pregnancy body-mass index (BMI) in women in their first trimester and the risk for childhood epilepsy. Of the more than 1.4 million children born between 1997 and 2011, there were 7,592 children (0.5 percent) diagnosed with epilepsy through 2012.

The overall incidence of epilepsy in children (ages 28 days to 16 years) was 6.79 per 10,000 child-years. Risk of childhood epilepsy increased by maternal BMI from 6.30 per 10,000 child-years among normal-weight women (BMI less than 25) to 12.4 per 10,000 child-years among women with grade III obesity (BMI of 40 or more), according to the results. Risk of epilepsy increased by 11 percent in children of overweight mothers (BMI of 25 to less than 30) compared with children and normal-weight mothers, while grade
I obesity (BMI 30 to less than 35) was associated with a 20 percent increased risk, grade II obesity (BMI 35 to less than 40) was associated with a 30 percent increased risk and grade III obesity was associated with an 82 percent increased risk of epilepsy, the authors report. The authors speculate on possible reasons, including that maternal overweight and obesity may increase the risk of brain injury, leading to a range of neurodevelopmental disorders, or that maternal obesity might affect neurodevelopment through obesity-induced inflammation.

Also, eating a high fat and high sugar diet when pregnant leads to metabolic impairments in both the mother and her unborn child, which may “program” them for potential health complications later in life, researchers have shown. In a study carried out in pregnant mice, a team of academics found that an obesity-causing high fat and high sugar diet disrupted processes within the pregnant mother’s body, leading to poor metabolic control. These changes were found just prior to birth and may make her more susceptible to conditions such as type 2 diabetes and heart disease, as well as to further fat accumulation, in later motherhood.

The study is published in The Journal of Physiology . The exact impact on her child during pregnancy was harder to ascertain, but the researchers found that metabolic dysfunction in the mother compromised the flow of nutrients to the foetus, altering its growth and metabolism at critical stages during its development.



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