Safe weight gain for heavier moms-to-be depends on level of obesity

Apr 22, 2010

How much weight obese women should safely gain during pregnancy is often controversial, with current guidelines suggesting a single range of 11 to 20 pounds. A new study, published online in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition by the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health and the University of California, Berkeley, suggests instead that optimal weight gain for obese mothers-to-be depends on level of obesity. Also, weight loss or very minimal weight gain may be detrimental to newborn health, except in the case of extremely obese women.

The study, which included 5,500 obese pregnant women at Magee-Womens Hospital of UPMC, investigated levels of gestational related to three adverse outcomes: babies born too small, too large or too early. The women in the study were stratified by level of obesity, or (BMI), and defined as class 1 (BMI 30 to 34.9), class 2 (BMI 35 to 39.9) and class 3 (BMI 40 and over).

Nearly 10 percent of the study participants lost weight during pregnancy. was generally associated with an increased risk of preterm births and infants with restricted growth. For severely , however, very minimal weight gain (less than 5 pounds) or weight loss was not detrimental to newborn health.

The study also found that women who gained a large amount of weight were at increased risk of pre-term births and infants who were overgrown, suggesting that very high weight gain also is related to adverse birth outcomes.

"Some clinicians have been pushing weight restriction for all classes of obese women," said Lisa M. Bodnar, Ph.D., M.P.H., R.D., lead author of the study and assistant professor of epidemiology, , University of Pittsburgh. "Our study indicates that a single standard for optimal weight gain for obese women may not fit the bill. Instead, we need to consider level of obesity and advise women accordingly."

The authors suggest the following pregnancy weight gain ranges to optimize birth outcomes: 20 to 30 pounds for class 1 women; 5 to 20 pounds for class 2 women and less than 10 pounds for class 3 women. Women who gain less than the suggested amounts can still have healthy pregnancies provided their dietary intake is being monitored to ensure proper nutrition, say the authors.

"Obese women may face increased complications of pregnancy," said Barbara Abrams, Dr.P.H., R.D., senior author of the study and professor of epidemiology, maternal and child health and public health nutrition, University of California, Berkeley. "Appropriate weight gain may lessen these risks for the baby, so we strongly encourage all obese women to receive nutrition and lifestyle counseling throughout their pregnancies."

Explore further: Health insurance sign-ups coming to shopping malls

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Study suggests obese women should not gain weight

May 29, 2009

For years, doctors and other health-care providers have managed pregnant patients according to guidelines issued by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG). In 1986, ACOG stated, "Regardless of how ...

When it's not just baby weight

Dec 22, 2008

Body image is a tricky thing for many women. Like looking into a funhouse mirror, the way they perceive their bodies can make them think they're thinner or more obese than they actually are. Researchers led by Temple University's ...

Recommended for you

How physicians are adapting to payment reform

7 hours ago

Private and public healthcare providers in the U.S. are increasingly turning to the "pay-for-performance" model, in which physicians and hospitals are paid if they meet healthcare quality and efficiency targets. ...

Patients at emergency departments regarded as 'symptoms'

8 hours ago

The healthcare work of providing care at Emergency departments is medicalized and result-driven. As a consequence of this, patients are regarded as "symptoms", and are shunted around the department as "production units". ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.