Researchers in Sweden recently discovered that infants born to women who were overweight or obese early in pregnancy have an increased risk of childhood epilepsy. The higher the maternal body mass index (BMI), the higher the risk, according to researchers.
Study results—which were based on 14 million births and were published online in JAMA Neurology—suggest that epilepsy risk increases by 11 percent in children of overweight mothers and by 82 percent in children born to mothers with a BMI ≥40 (classified as morbid obesity), compared to children of healthy-weight mothers.
Previous studies have shown that obesity during pregnancy is associated with increased inflammation, altered hormone levels, folic acid deficiency, and insulin resistance, but more research is needed to determine the role of maternal obesity in childhood epilepsy. Epilepsy is also linked to complications during pregnancy and delivery.
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