COVID during pregnancy might raise obesity risk in children


Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy.

By Lisa Schnirring

A study of about 150 babies born to women who had COVID-19 during pregnancy found growth patterns that have been linked to developing obesity and other health problems. A research team based at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) reported their findings yesterday in The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism.

For their longitudinal cohort study, they examined data on 149 babies who had exposure to COVID-19 during the mother’s pregnancy, comparing it with data on 127 babies who weren’t exposed during pregnancy. They focused on weight, length, and body mass index (BMI) data from health records at 0, 2, 6, and 12 months. The team adjusted for several factors, including maternal age, ethnicity, and breastfeeding.

Babies born to mothers who had been sick with COVID had lower BMIs at birth, but greater BMIs from birth to 12 months, marked by a steep progressive rise during infancy. In contrast, the unexposed babies typically experienced a decline in BMI in the first 6 months that rebounded to baseline by 12 months.

Researchers said lower birth weight and faster weight gain during the first year of life may be harbingers of cardiometabolic problems later in life and that the findings support the need for close monitoring.

In a press release from The Endocrine Society, Andrea Edlow, MD, a study coauthor who is at MGH, said, “Larger studies with longer follow-up duration are needed to confirm these associations.”