Skip to main content

Does childhood obesity start in the womb?

Childhood obesity is a growing problem, with over 20% of children in developed countries found to be overweight.  Obesity in childhood increases the risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes in later life.  So, what is causing the increase in obesity in children?   A new study suggests that the problem starts before birth in the womb, and the clue lies in the infant's first stool. 

Meconium—the earliest stool of an infant—is composed of materials ingested during the time the infant spends in the uterus. The new study published in Pediatric Obesity found that the types of normal bacteria found in the meconium could predict an infant’s likelihood of later developing obesity.

In the study of 212 newborns, children who became overweight at 3 years of age differed in their meconium bacterial makeup from those with normal weight, having a higher proportion of bacteria in the Bacteroidetes phylum (29% versus 15%).

So, the microbiome of the first‐pass meconium predicted subsequent overweight at the age of 3 years. 

The concept of fetal microbiome is controversial and the colonization process after birth is better understood than the possible fetal colonization; however, there are many prenatal factors affecting the microbial composition of the baby's first stool, such as the mother's use of antibiotics during pregnancy and biodiversity of the home environment during pregnancy.  Lead author Dr Katja Korpela  of the University of Oulu, in Finland, says: 

 “It is very interesting that the microbiome formed before birth is possibly linked to a child's subsequent weight status.”

The authors noted that the results emphasize the importance of investigating maternal and prenatal factors when considering the pathogenesis of pediatric obesity.


Ray Noble is a chartered biologist and Fellow of The Royal Society of Biology and of the Royal Society of Medicine.  He was formally Graduate Tutor at the Institute for Women's Health at UCL.  Ray is also a novelist:


Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Ian Duncan-Smith says he wants to make those on benefits 'better people'!

By any account, the government's austerity strategy is utilitarian. It justifies its approach by the presumed potential ends. It's objective is to cut the deficit, but it has also adopted another objective which is specifically targeted. It seeks to drive people off benefits and 'back to work'.  The two together are toxic to the poorest in society. Those least able to cope are the most affected by the cuts in benefits and the loss of services.

It is the coupling of these two strategic aims that make their policies ethically questionable. For, by combining the two, slashing the value of benefits to make budget savings while also changing the benefits system, the highest burden falls on a specific group, those dependent on benefits. For the greater good of the majority, a minority group, those on benefits, are being sacrificed; sacrificed on the altar of austerity. And they are being sacrificed in part so that others may be spared.

Utilitarian ethics considers the balan…

Keir Starmer has a lot to offer

The Labour Party is in the process of making a decision that will decide whether it can recover from the defeat in 2019 General Election.  All the candidates have much to offer and are making their case well.

No doubt for some the decision will be difficult.  Others may well have made up their minds on the simple binary of Left-wing-Right-wing.

The choice should be whoever is best placed to pull the party together.  Someone who can form a front bench of all talents and across the spectrum in the party.

That is what Harold Wilson did in the 1960s.  His government included Roy Jenkins on the right and Barbar Castle on the left; it included Crossman and Crossland, and Tony Benn with Jim Callaghan.  It presented a formidable team.

Keir Starmer brings to the top table a formidable career outside politics, having been a human rights lawyer and then Director of Public Prosecutions.   He is a man of integrity and commitment who believes in a fairer society where opportunities are more widel…

No evidence for vaccine link with autism

Public health bodies are worried that an alarming drop in childhood vaccinations is leading to a resurgence of diseases in childhood that we had all but eradicated.  Misinformation and scare stories about the harmful effects of vaccines abound on the internet and in social media.  Where they are based on 'science', it is highly selective, and often reliance is placed on falsehoods. 
Conspiracy theories also abound - cover-ups, deception, lies. As a result, too many parents are shunning vaccinations for their children.  So, what does the published, peer-reviewed literature tell us about vaccincations? Are they safe and effective, or are there long term harmful effects? 
A new report now provides some of the answers.

New evidence published in the Cochrane Library today finds MMR, MMRV, and MMR+V vaccines are effective and that they are not associated with increased risk of autism.

Measles, mumps, rubella, and varicella (also known as chickenpox) are infectious diseases caused by …