From Daily Telegraph
Research, published in international journal Obesity Reviews, examined findings from across across the world on the impact of maternal weight on child development.
One study found that every increased unit in the pregnant woman's Body Mass Index (BMI) - calculated as her weight in kilograms divided by the square of her height in metres - was associated with a "significantly" reduced IQ in the child.
Overall, the average IQ of children of obese mothers was five points lower than those born to mothers of healthy weight, according to the study, one of 12 examined by researchers in psychiatry and behavioural neuroscience from McMaster University, in Ontario Canada.
Research from Sweden found children born of overweight mothers were more likely to suffer from attention deficit problems, while findings from Japan found every extra BMI point added in early pregnancy increased the offspring's chance of developing schizophrenia in adulthood by 24 per cent.
A study of Australian teenagers suggested their chance of having an eating disorder increased by 11 per cent for every extra BMI point gained by their mothers during the pregnancy.
Research has found that one in six women in this country are obese by the time they are three months into pregnancy - a proportion which has more than doubled in two decades, amid an obesity epidemic.
A study, led by Teeside University, found massive variations in levels of obesity among expectant mothers cross the country. In London, 13 per cent of mothers-to-be were obese, while in the West Midlands, the figure was 22 per cent. The study suggested more than 100,000 babies a year were at risk of dying or suffering serious problems because of the risks from obesity, which puts a woman's body under extra strain, when it is working to nurture new life.
Obesity in pregnancy increases the risk of diabetes, high blood pressure, blood clots, miscarriages and still-births, while layers of fat can mean serious defects can be missed in scans.
Earlier this year, a study found that rates of foetal and infant death are twice as high among those born to obese mothers.The study found that 16 in 1,000 babies suffered fetal or infant death if their mothers had a BMI greater than 30 in early pregnancy, compared with 9 deaths per 1,000 babies among those with a healthy BMI.
Big babies - those weighing more than 10 lbs - are around twice as likely as other babies to end up obese as adults.
Separate studies have found increased dangers of developmental problems like spina bifida and neural tube defects in infants of obese mothers.
Jane Munro, from the Royal College of Midwives, said more research was needed to establish whether the apparent risks highlighted in the latest study were a direct result of maternal obesity.She said: "There are some clear risks from obesity that we already know about- hypertension, pre-eclampsia, larger babies, an increased risk of having a baby born by Caesarean section, and that the child is more likely to become obese. "
Nutritionist London Yvonne Bishop-Weston said "Most of the headlines are focused on too many calories, the dangers of eating for two. Whats more important is eating whole food rather than half food. It's far easier to overeat on food that has vital nutrients refined, processed and bred out of it for the sake of a longer shelf life. So much of the food that is ubiquitously available has little or no positive nutritional benefit to offer us. Mothers and babies in particular need omega 3 essential fats not highly processed vegetable and saturated animal fats. Eating processed fats, saturated animal fats and too much omega 6 found in meat and products with sunflower oil will make it much harder for the mother to process essential omega 3 fats into the DHA fats needed to build baby's brain, heart, eyes and other vital organs."