Weight Gain in Pregnancy

The American Institute for Cancer Research in Washington, D.C. provides valuable information about weight gain during pregnancy. They tell us that the far more common problem is gaining too much weight during pregnancy, which can lead to short- and long-term risks for both mother and baby.

Obese Pregnancy
Image Courtesy: abc.com

They say that there’s no single perfect weight-gain figure for all women but there are general guidelines.

There is risk associated with too little and too much gain.
Gaining more than 35 pounds puts normal-weight women at increased risk for:
--- cesarean delivery,
--- high birth weight babies and possibly
--- preeclampsia.

One report found that baby girls of higher birth weight are probably more likely than those born at normal weight to develop premenopausal breast cancer as adults.

Mothers are also likely to retain extra weight after pregnancy, raising their risk of a variety of health problems.

There is also concern about gaining too little weight. There is an immediate and long-term concern. Distorted body image views and books and websites promoting overly restrictive food choices may lead some women to gain too little. This is not healthy. Low birth weight babies are more vulnerable to infections and face increased risk of death and disease and also increased risk in adulthood of heart disease and diabetes.

There are new recommendations:
-- Underweight women (body mass index less than 18.5) should gain 28 to 40 pounds during pregnancy; --- Normal-weight women (whose BMI falls between 18.5 and 24.9) should gain 25 to 35 pounds;
-- Overweight women (with BMI 25 to 29.9) should gain 15 to 25 pounds.

Women carrying twins have higher weight-gain targets.

New recommendations for obese women
The major change in recommended weight gain is for the estimated 28 percent of women of childbearing age who are now obese. Defined by a body mass index of 30 or more, at 5 feet 5 inches, this includes women 180 pounds and over.

Obese women were once urged to gain at least 15 pounds during pregnancy. Experts now recommend obese women gain 11 to 20 pounds by eating a balanced diet of 2,000 to 3,500 calories a day. These women:
-- have fewer cesarean deliveries,
-- develop diabetes or hypertension during pregnancy less often,
-- retain less weight after birth, and
-- are less likely to have a high birth weight baby
compared to those who gain more.

Recommendation for more attention to weight Before and During pregnancy
The report also emphasizes that women should aim to conceive while at a normal BMI and gain within the guidelines during pregnancy. More than half of American women ages 20 to 39 are overweight or obese. Obese women are more likely than normal-weight women to face gestational diabetes and hypertension, preeclampsia, birth defects, cesarean delivery and excessively large babies.

American Institute for Cancer Research in Washington, D.C.
Aug 2009

Child Obesity is a great concern in the USA.