A new study has contributed to the mounting evidence that how a baby puts on weight during infancy may be directly related to that child’s risk of becoming obese.
When a baby gains weight quickly during the first six months of life, she is at greater risk of being obese by the time she is 3.
The new studies focused not just on the baby weight, but on the BMI or body mass index.
This measure also takes into consideration the child’s height. The BMI is increasingly used to evaluate obesity in adults.
The study found a relationship between rapid weight gain between birth and age 6 months, and obesity in that same child by age 3. Researchers adjusted for factors such as premature birth or low birth weight.
When looking at BMI figures, children in the highest 25 percent were 40 times more likely to be obese by age 3 than children in the lowest 25 percent.
During infancy, and indeed even before birth, a baby is growing and developing at an amazingly quick pace. Events during these early months may have a greater impact on long-term health consequences that we previously knew.
For example, there is an indication that breastfed babies are less likely to develop diabetes as an adult. Researchers will be looking for ways to manage weight gain in infancy to provide enough fuel for the growing child, but not so much that the child is likely to become obese.