Past research has associated increased childhood obesity rates with maternal nutrition, maternal BMI and excessive weight gain during pregnancy. Researchers in Finland recently published a study in the journal BMC Pediatrics suggesting antenatal interventions can reduce the risk of gestational diabetes and thus potentially reduce obesity risk in certain pregnant patients.

Researchers investigated 185 women at increased risk of developing gestational diabetes. After giving birth, offspring were also included in the study. All children were born from 2009 to 2010. A control group of children were pulled from 2008 births. An intervention was started between the 10th and 17th week of gestation. All participants took part in individual and group counseling. Healthy nutrition and physical activity were discussed. Participants were also given information that encouraged breastfeeding for at least six months postpartum.

Women who participated in the intervention group were less likely to develop gestational diabetes. Researchers believe this could greatly impact the rate of childhood obesity, but past studies have reported childhood obesity develops in early childhood, which disproves a connection between gestational diabetes and childhood obesity. Further research is required to fully understand the effect of antenatal counseling on childhood obesity.

Source: Mustila T, Raitanen J, Keskinen P, Saari A, Luoto R. Pragmatic controlled trial to prevent childhood obesity in maternity and child health care clinics: pregnancy and infant weight outcomes (The VACOPP Study). BMC Pediatr. 2013 May 20;13:80. doi: 10.1186/1471-2431-13-80.