The emotional stress and depression a mother goes during and after pregnancy may lead her baby to gain more weight compared to their peers and even cause childhood obesity, a recent study has revealed.
The study, conducted by German and American medical experts from Germany's Charité Medical School and published in the BMC Public Health Magazine in January, has found a link between maternal stress and childhood weight development, especially in the first two years of the child's life.
According to the study, in which some 500 mothers and children were analyzed since 2006, the babies of stressed mothers were found to be heavier than other babies, and had gained more weight in a short period of time.
Irina Lehmann and Saskia Trump, the leading experts of the research, said that the interesting part of the study was that they found out that female babies were more vulnerable to stress than male babies. The reason for such discrepancy is still being investigated by scientists.
Although the connection between maternal stress and obesity is not yet clear, Lehmann said that there are some theories on the subject such as the stress pushing the mother to reduce the amount of physical activity she gets at home and increase her intake of unhealthy foods.
The revelation is significant nonetheless as it shows mothers' psychological state and lifestyle has an impact on children's health and well-being.
Lehmann said that the children are affected by their mother's physical condition and thus may start to move less, which can eventually lead to obesity.
In 2013, Canadian scientists found that the body mass index of children who were exposed to stress by their parents were about two percent higher than that of children growing up in stress-free environment.