Maternal Phenotype

We all know that genes influence a baby's development, but so do the characteristics of the mother and father. With regards to health risks, there are maternal traits that affect baby and mother alike. For example, being overweight or obese is now a common high-risk condition affecting about one in five women who give birth. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) these women have more prenatal tests, ultrasounds, medications, consultations with health care providers, prenatal visits, hospital stays and C-section deliveries.

The Developmental Origins of Health and Disease research has shown that babies born to overweight mothers are at greater risk for developing chronic diseases, such as type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and obesity. Ways to support women during pregnancy can include education, nutritional counseling and guidance for stress reduction and physical exercise. It's critical to encourage, support and determine ways that the environment surrounding pregnant women can help in maintaining her health and well being. While the mother is the environment for the developing baby, society and community are the environments for the pregnant mother.

Center for Disease Control. (2018, April 27). Reproductive Health. Retrieved from

Chavatte-Palmer, P., Tarrade, A., & Rousseau-Ralliard, D. (2016). Diet before and during Pregnancy and Offspring Health: The Importance of Animal Models and What Can Be Learned from Them. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health,13(6), 586.

Chen, A., Feresu, S., Fernandez, C., & Rogan, W. (2009). Maternal Obesity and the Risk of Infant Death in the United States. Epidemiology, 20(1), 74-81.

Patti, M. (2013). Reducing maternal weight improves offspring metabolism and alters (or modulates) methylation. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 110(32), 12859-12860.