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Critically Speaking

Dec 11, 2019

In this episode, Therese Markow and Dr. Cheryl Hawkes discuss the increasing scientific evidence that maternal obesity affects the developing fetal brain.  While many of the effects are manifest early, in infant temperament and childhood cognitive (IQ) decrements, other effects do not show up until years later, in adult psychiatric and neurodegenerative problems.  The physical bases for these changes in fetal brains also are clearly evidenced in laboratory model systems, such as mice, where the maternal diets can be controlled and the offspring not only can be given behavioral tests, but their brains can be dissected to reveal the changes in the blood vessels caused by obese mothers. 




Key Takeaways:  

  • Children born to obese mothers who are obese have lower IQs and poorer motor, spatial, and verbal skills. 
  • Mice and rodents have similar brain development to humans, which is why rodent study models are so beneficial to science. 
  • Brain maturation takes many years. Your brain is fully formed at birth but continues to mature and change into your mid-twenties. 


"Because of the rise in obesity globally, a lot of people have started to look, rather than looking at famine…, to now shift our attention to looking at the long term effects of obesity because 30% of women around the world, over the age of 18, are now considered to be obese." —  Dr. Cheryl Hawkes 


Connect with Dr. Cheryl Hawkes:  

Lancaster University Profile: Dr. Cheryl Hawkes    


Connect with Therese:  


Twitter: @CritiSpeak  




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