Obesity during pregnancy increases risk of epilepsy in child, study finds

Researchers at the Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm studied live-births in Sweden between 1997 and 2011. Of those they studied, there were 7,592 babies, or 0.5 per cent, diagnosed with epilepsy.

The risk of epilepsy increased by 11 per cent among those born to overweight mothers — those with a body mass index of 25-29 — compared with children of normal-weight mothers.

Grade I obesity (BMI 30 to less than 35) was associated with a 20 per cent increased risk, grade II obesity (BMI 35 to less than 40) was associated with a 30 per cent increased risk.

Babies born to severely obese mums, or grade III obesity, was associated with an 82 per cent increased risk of epilepsy.

You can calculate your BMI on the Government’s Health Direct website.

Bernadette White, the clinical director of obstetrics at the Mercy Hospital for Women in Melbourne, said the study definitely piqued her interest.

Did the findings surprise her? Not exactly.

“In some ways it’s not all that surprising because [the study’s authors] mention some of the reasons for the link are things we already know to be associated with obesity, like neuro abnormalities and greater risks of diabetes,” Dr White said.

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