An infant whose mother suffered gestational diabetes is 81 percent more likely to be overweight at school. Picture: AP

London - Scientists can predict from the age of one if a child will become overweight, it was claimed on Wednesday

Using 12 facts about an infant and their parents, experts can make an accurate forecast of how a child will develop as he or she approaches their teenage years.

Individuals are most at risk of weight gain if their mother had diabetes in pregnancy, although birthweight and parental size are also important. Boys and children with younger mothers are also more likely to become overweight.

Researchers hope to create a mobile phone app in which parents can enter their family characteristics to discover a prediction for their child.

Scientists say the 12 factors predict excessive weight by age ten to 12 with 70 percent accuracy.

Dr Tanja Vrijkotte, from Amsterdam Medical Centre, who helped to devise the test, said: "Babies can be programmed in the womb to become overweight by conditions like diabetes, and lifestyle differences can make them overweight.

"If we can predict this, we can discuss feeding patterns and physical activity with parents. It is much easier to develop healthy habits in an infant who is not yet overweight. It is harder to get older children to lose the weight."

The Dutch researchers developed a tool which can predict if one-year-old children will be overweight aged ten to 12, based on simple questions around the circumstances of 7 810 children, of whom more than a quarter were overweight.

An infant whose mother suffered gestational diabetes is 81 percent more likely to be overweight at school. Other risk factors include an overweight father or pre-pregnant mother.

A woman with high blood sugar can pass it through the placenta to their unborn child, which makes the baby’s body more likely to store fat, while overweight parents may pass on unhealthy eating habits. 

Other factors include a child’s birthweight, and weight compared to their length. Boys are about one fifth more likely to be overweight aged ten to 12 than girls.

Older, more educated mothers, who may have higher incomes, are less likely to have overweight children. Other factors include ethnicity, parents smoking in the home and mothers smoking during pregnancy. Children exposed to smoke in the womb are born underweight, but then tend to grow more to compensate.

The researchers hope an app will be available in the next few years.

Daily Mail