Maternal obesity may cause childhood cancer in later years

Maternal obesity may cause childhood cancer in later years

Maternal obesity can affect her child’s health by leading to childhood cancer. UPMC Cancer Center and the University of Pittsburgh studied this and published the research findings. They found that maternal obesity leads to childhood cancer.

Mothers pre-pregnancy BMI and cancer diagnosis in children

Body mass index helps to measure a person’s health risk. It checks if a person has the right weight for his height.

BMI doesn’t measure exact body fat. And it doesn’t include factors like age, sex, and muscle mass. BMI outside the normal range increases health risk.

The normal range for body mass index is 18.5 – 24.9 kg/m2. A low BMI indicates that there is an increased risk of malnutrition. While BMI more than 24.9 indicates excess body weight and obesity.

The researchers have used Pennsylvania birth records for this study. They took the data on maternal BMI from these birth records.

Later, the research team have used these BMIs and linked them with the cancer registry files. Using these records, they found a link between mothers BMI before pregnancy and cancer diagnosis in children.

The results were the same, even after rectifying known risk factors. These risk factors include the mother’s age and the size of a newborn baby. Still, many avoidable risk factors for childhood cancer are unknown.

The study included 2 million birth records and up to 3000 reported cancer registries. And the result of this study shows that maternal obesity can lead to childhood cancer.

Weight and height association with increased risk of leukemia

Leukemia is a type of blood cancer. It affects the blood-forming tissues of the body. These tissues are bone marrow and the lymphatic system.

There are various forms of leukemia. Some types are more common in children. While others are present in adults.

Leukemia is the cancer of white blood cells. WBCs in the body fight against infections. In normal conditions, WBCs grow in number to fight against infection.

But in persons with leukemia, abnormal white blood cells are present in the body. The bone marrow of an affected person starts producing WBCs that can’t perform their function properly.

The research team analyzed the birth records and cancer registries filed in the year 2003 – 2016. They found that mothers with BMI > 40, have given birth to children who are at higher risk of leukemia.

The mothers having BMI > 40 were grade 3 obese. And their children had 57 % more risk of getting leukemia before reaching the age of 5.

It wasn’t like that the larger or heavier women gave birth to larger babies that are the risk factors for childhood leukemia. But the results have shown that the weight and height of the mothers are individually related to the increased risk of leukemia.

Also read- What are the Earliest Symptoms of Childhood Leukemia?

The researchers provide some other reasons to give an idea about this increased risk of leukemia. They think that the increased levels of insulin in mothers during pregnancy can be the root cause of this effect.

Another possible reason may be a mother’s DNA expression passed on to her child. Moreover, the level of risk is different for each grade of obesity.

Among the obese women included in the study, the childhood cancer risk was higher in the children born by mothers with higher BMI. As maternal obesity leads to childhood cancer, there is a reduction of risk by losing even a small amount of weight.



The author is a Medical Microbiologist and healthcare writer. She is a post-graduate of Medical Microbiology and Immunology. She covers all content on health and wellness including weight loss, nutrition, and general health. Twitter @Areeba94789300

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