Mothers who gain weight between pregnancies may experience pregnancy complications

Weight gain between pregnancies may lead to complications during pregnancy and the delivery period, according to a study published in this week's issue of The Lancet.

The study analysed the interpregnancy body-mass index (BMI) change between the first two consecutive pregnancies in over 150,000 Swedish women, as well as the incidence of maternal and perinatal* complications during the second pregnancy.

The study found that weight gain during the interpregnancy period is strongly associated with major maternal and perinatal complications, even in women who are not medically overweight. It has been shown that a gain of 3 or more BMI units is associated with an increased risk of: pre-eclampsia; gestational hypertension; gestational diabetes; caesarean delivery; stillbirth and large-for-gestational-age births.

The authors said: "Our results… strengthen the argument for a causal relationship between maternal overweight or obesity and adverse pregnancy outcomes."

The public health ramifications of this study are profound; especially considering the current global obesity epidemic (even during the course of the study [1992-2001] the prevalence of overweight and obese pregnant women in Sweden increased form 25% to 36%).

The paper concluded that: "[The results] provide robust epidemiological evidence for advocating weight loss in overweight and obese women who are planning to become pregnant, and to prevent weight gain in the larger population of women with healthy weight."

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Contact: Dr. E Villamor, Dept Nutrition, Harvard School Public Health, Boston, MA 02115, USA. T) +1 617 432 1238 evillamo@hsph.harvard.edu or Prof. Sven Cnattingius T) +46 8 524 86190 Sven.Cnattingius@meb.ki.se

Notes to editors

Perinatal – the period immediately before and after birth.


Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 21 Feb 2009
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