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Critically Speaking

Dec 18, 2019

In this episode, Therese Markow interviews Dr. Shaina Stacy about her studies on cancer risks in children depending upon the body mass index (BMI) of their mothers before and during pregnancy. Dr. Stacy explains how she obtained a sample of nearly 2 million mother-child pairs in the state of Pennsylvania, the largest sample size ever for such a study. They discuss how children of women with a BMI of over 30 when pregnant, had a significantly higher risk of cancers compared to children of lean mothers. This was notable for leukemia in children under 5, especially acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL). The mechanism underlying the increased risk is not yet known.  


Key Takeaways:  

  • Maternal obesity before and during pregnancy increases the risk for cancers in children under 5 years of age. 
  • The risk of leukemia, especially acute lymphoblastic leukemia or ALL, is the greatest. 
  • Children of white, educated women, if obese during pregnancy, have the highest risk. 
  • Transgenerational effects of obesity are becoming more apparent. 


"We found that children born to mothers in our highest BMI category had over 30% higher risk of developing any type of childhood cancer." —  Dr. Shaina Stacy 


Connect with Dr. Shaina Stacy:  

Twitter: @sstacy06 

LinkedIn: Shaina Stacy  

Scientific American Blog Post: Cancer Prevention Should Start before Birth    



Connect with Therese:  


Twitter: @CritiSpeak  




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