(HealthDay News) – Risk factors for childhood overweight are identifiable during infancy, and include maternal pre-pregnancy weight, infant birth weight and weight gain, and maternal smoking during pregnancy.

Stephen Franklin Weng, from the University of Nottingham in the United Kingdom, and colleagues conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis to identify risk factors for childhood overweight during the first year of life. Thirty prospective observational studies were included, which followed children from birth for at least two years.

The researchers identified significant and robust independent associations for maternal pre-pregnancy overweight, high infant birth weight, and rapid weight gain during the first year of life with childhood overweight. There was a 15% decrease in the odds of childhood overweight in a meta-analysis comparing breastfed with non-breastfed infants. The odds of childhood overweight were increased 47% for children whose mothers smoked during pregnancy. Some evidence was found linking early introduction of solid foods with childhood overweight. The evidence was conflicting for duration of breastfeeding, socioeconomic status at birth, parity, and maternal marital status at birth, while there was no association found between childhood overweight and maternal age or education at birth, maternal depression, or infant ethnicity. Due to the limited number of studies, the evidence was inconclusive for associations with delivery type, gestational weight gain, maternal postpartum weight loss, and ‘fussy’ infant temperament.

“Future research needs to focus on whether it is clinically feasible for health care professionals to identify infants at greatest risk,” the authors write.

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