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Study: Maternal and Paternal Obesity Associated with Early Childhood Development Delays

A new study in the February 2017 issue of Pediatrics finds that maternal and paternal obesity each are associated with specific delays in early childhood development. The study, “Parental Obesity and Early Childhood Development,” to be published online Jan. 2, recruited mothers from New York State (excluding New York City) who completed a development screening questionnaire beginning when their children were 4 months old, and again at 8, 12, 18, 24, 30 and 36 months old. The study, conducted between 2008 and 2010, analyzed the data based on screenings of more than 4,800 children. Compared to normal or underweight mothers, children of obese mothers had increased odds of failing in fine motor functions. Those whose fathers were obese showed an increased risk of failing the personal social functioning measures. Children of two parents classified as obese (body mass index equal or exceeding 35) had higher odds of failing in multiple domains, including fine motor skills, personal and social functioning and problem-solving. The authors emphasize the importance of obtaining family information when screening child development.

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The American Academy of Pediatrics is an organization of 66,000 primary care pediatricians, pediatric medical subspecialists and pediatric surgical specialists dedicated to the health, safety and well-being of infants, children, adolescents and young adults. For more information, visit

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