MOANALUA, OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Children whose mothers gain excess weight or have elevated blood sugar during their pregnancies are more likely to become overweight or obese before their 10th birthday, a landmark study that included Hawaii women has concluded.
The Kaiser Permanente study, published Friday in the Maternal and Child Health Journal, also found that normal-weight babies were 30 percent more likely to be overweight or obese before age 10 if their mothers had gestational diabetes.
Dr. Keith Ogasawara, Moanalua Medical Center's chief of staff, said he's been telling pregnant mothers for years to watch their weight gain and blood sugars.
Now, he has hard data to back up that good advice.
The study found that women who gained 40 or more pounds during pregnancy had a 15 percent higher risk of having overweight or obese children.
More than 24,000 mothers and their children in Hawaii, Oregon and Washington were tracked over a decade for the study, one of the largest of its kind to look at the topic.
"The reason they chose Hawaii was our ethnic diversity," Ogasawara said. "We do have a population in Hawaii that does have a higher risk for diabetes."
Ogasawara says expectant mothers should consult their doctors to find out what a healthy weight gain range is for them -- and to create an individualized health plan.
He says the report can be life-altering, in the best of ways.
"Now we have evidence we can show them, you watch your weight gain, you control your blood sugars in your pregnancy, oh my God, you can make a potential lifetime improvement for your unborn child's health," he said.