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Born to Be Big?

Photograph by AFP/Getty Images

Doctors usually wait till kids are toddlers, or older, before diagnosing them as obese. But a new study may change all that. According to its findings, babies as young as two months of age already show growth patterns that can predict their weight at their fifth birthday.

The research results, discovered by Case Western Reserve University’s Frances Payne Bolton School of Nursing and Tennessee State University, were published in the journal Clinical Pediatrics.

The study analyzed the records of more than 200 healthy children, scanning their height, weight and medical data over nine checkups during their first five years. Soon, a trend emerged: Normal-weight babies with a BMI in the 17th percentile tended to level off there at 2 months of age and stay there for the next 5 years. But babies who were obese or overweight tended to jump past that 17th-percentile mark around 14 months of age, and keep on going, their BMIs rising through their preschool years.

“Almost from birth, we quickly saw this growth pattern emerge in our curves and growth charts for weight over height,” says Susan Ludington, the lead investigator, according to Eurekalert.

The study is significant because it’s the first to exclusively use healthy babies and children to track early weight patterns. The researchers were also able to look through the mothers’ medical records, seeing whether they smoked, which could affect their babies’ weight.

The study’s authors suspect that how we moms eat during pregnancies may influence our baby’s hormones and ability to feel satisfied and full.

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