SOUTHFIELD (WWJ) – Too much weight before and during pregnancy can have serious health consequences not only for the mother, but for her child’s health for many years, new research shows.

“While it’s pretty well-known a healthy weight is crucial to a healthy and long life, new research is showing that if a woman is overweight while pregnant, her baby is more likely to be overweight,” Alan Fleischman, March of Dimes medical director, said in a statement.

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Those health risks continue into childhood, with a higher risk of developing insulin resistance, high blood pressure and high cholesterol, all of which can lead to heart disease and diabetes.

“We realize that weight is a sensitive subject for many women and that some health care professionals are uncomfortable discussing it, but weight is a risk factor that can be modified. If a woman starts pregnancy at a healthy weight, it can not only lower the risk of preterm birth and birth defects, but can give her baby a healthier start that can have life-long benefits,” said Fleischman.

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The March of Dimes recommends that women who are planning a pregnancy should get a preconception health check-up.

During the visit, the health care provider can identify and treat health conditions that can pose a risk in pregnancy, such as high blood pressure, diabetes or certain infections and provide information on nutrition, weight, smoking, drinking alcohol and occupational exposures that can pose pregnancy risks.

Anna Maria Siega-Riz, professor of Epidemiology and Nutrition at the University of North Carolina Gillings School of Global Public Health, said eating nutritious foods, being physically active, and having emotional balance sets the pregnancy off to the best start possible.

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