How Childhood Epilepsy May Be Related to a Mom’s Weight

mother and Girl walking in lavender fieldMaintaining a healthy body weight is important to your health for a variety of reasons, and now researchers have found that it can also affect your child’s chance of developing epilepsy. According to a study recently published in JAMA Neurology, being overweight or obese is associated with an increased risk of childhood epilepsy.

Authors of the study also found the chance of childhood epilepsy increased with the mother’s weight. While the reason for the correlation between maternal weight and childhood epilepsy is still not clearly understood, the researchers wrote that neonatal complications were taken into consideration and are not the source of the correlation.

Does Obesity Cause Childhood Epilepsy?

The study wasn’t designed to show a cause-and-effect relationship between maternal obesity and childhood epilepsy. Most of the specific causes for epilepsy in children are still completely understood by the medical community.

The incidents of epilepsy in children overall are low, even for mothers who are overweight or obese.

However, the tendency for epilepsy to occur more often in children with overweight or obese mothers may point to a new avenue of research for scientists studying its causes. The study is based on data from nearly 1.5 million births in Sweden between 1997 and 2011.

What Are the Risks?

The researchers found that not only did children born to overweight mothers have an increased chance of developing childhood epilepsy, but that their chance increased with the mother’s body mass index (BMI). BMI is an estimate of a person’s body fat based on their height and weight.

A BMI between 25 and 29.9 was associated with an 11 percent increased risk, while a BMI of 40 or more was associated with an 82 percent increase of the risk of developing childhood epilepsy. A normal BMI ranges between 18.5 and 24.9, while a person between 25 and 29.9 is considered overweight. Anyone above 30 is classified as obese.