Women who are overweight or obese during their pregnancy may significantly increase the risk for children developing epilepsy, a study has showed.
Epilepsy is a disorder in which nerve cell activity in the brain is disturbed, causing seizures.
The results showed that the risk of epilepsy increased by 11 per cent in children of overweight mothers (BMI of 25 to less than 30) compared with children and normal-weight mothers.
While women with grade I obesity (BMI 30 to less than 35) increased the risk 20 by per cent, those with grade II obesity (BMI 35 to less than 40) raised the risk by 30 per cent.
The risk for children with mothers in the grade III obesity category was 82 per cent.
"Given that overweight and obesity are potentially modifiable risk factors, prevention of obesity in women of reproductive age may be an important public health strategy to reduce the incidence of epilepsy," said Neda Razaz, from the Karolinska Institutet in Sweden.
Maternal overweight and obesity may increase the risk of brain injury, leading to a range of neurodevelopmental disorders, or that maternal obesity might affect neurodevelopment through obesity-induced inflammation, leading to epilepsy, the researchers argued, in the article published online by JAMA Neurology.
In addition, complications related to neonatal-asphyxia -- the state of being deprived of oxygen --, as well as less severe neonatal complications, were also independently associated with increased risk of childhood epilepsy.