Weight Matters in Pregnancy

by Ann Douglas

Weight matters in pregnancyChildren whose mothers gain more than the recommended amount of weight during pregnancy face above-average odds of being overweight at age seven.

That's the key finding to emerge from a study conducted by researchers from The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia and the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine. The study was published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

"The earliest determinants of obesity may operate during intrauterine life, and gestational weight gain may influence the environment in the womb in ways that can have long-term consequences on the risk of obesity in children," said study leader Brian Wrotniak, P.T., Ph.D., of The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia and the University of Pennsylvania.

Dr. Wrotniah continues, "Adherence to pregnancy weight gain recommendations may be a new and effective way to prevent childhood obesity, since currently almost half of U.S. women exceed these recommendations."

The researchers found that children whose mothers exceeded the recommended weight gain were 48 percent more likely to be overweight than children whose mothers stayed within the recommended weight gain.

The risk of overweight was similar for children born to women who gained insufficient weight as compared to mothers who gained an appropriate amount of weight during pregnancy.

Childhood obesity isn't the only reason to be concerned about maternal weight prior to and during pregnancy.

According to the Society of Obstetricians and Gynecologist of Canada (SOGC), being obese during pregnancy increases the risk of the mother developing hypertension or gestational diabetes and experiencing other pregnancy and birth-related complications; and children of obese mothers face an increased risk of being born with congenital heart defects and neural tube defects.

Leading a healthy lifestyle before, during, and after pregnancy and losing any extra pregnancy pounds before embarking on a subsequent pregnancy are important strategies for mothers to know about, the authors of the US study stress.

Ann Douglas is the author of numerous books about pregnancy and parenting including the bestselling "The Mother of All Pregnancy Books." She regularly contributes to a number of print and online publications, is frequently quoted in the media on a range of parenting-related topics, and has appeared as a guest on a number of television and radio shows. Ann and her husband Neil live in Peterborough, Ontario. with the youngest of their four children. Learn more at her site, having-a-baby.com.

Copyright © Ann Douglas. Permission to publish granted to Pregnancy.org.