Maternal Obesity Tied to Cerebral Palsy in Newborns

A new study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found an association between mothers’ body mass index and cerebral palsy in full-term newborns.

The study examined more than 1.4 million Swedish newborns and compared their rates of cerebral palsy with their mothers’ body mass indexes. Mothers were divided into six categories: underweight, normal weight, overweight, obesity grade 1, obesity grade 2 and obesity grade 3.

The rates for cerebral palsy climbed for children whose mothers were overweight or in one of the three obesity categories compared to infants born to women in the normal-weight category.

The results were deemed statistically significant for infants carried to term, but not for infants who were born prematurely.

The study had sought to discover whether maternal obesity early in a pregnancy could be associated with cerebral palsy regardless of whether the baby was carried to term or born early.

The study was conducted by Eduardo Villamor, M.D., DrPH, Department of Epidemiology, School of Public Health, Center for Human Growth and Development, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, and colleagues at the University of Michigan and Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden.

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Laurie Watanabe is the editor of Mobility Management. She can be reached at

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