Weight Gain Above Guidelines During Pregnancy is Risky for Baby

Weight Gain Above Guidelines During Pregnancy is Risky for Baby

Weigh to Grow


You're pregnant, right? So you get to eat as many french fries as you want, right? Wrong! You need to be careful about how much weight you gain during your pregnancy. Gaining too much or too little can be harmful to you and your baby. How many pounds you need to add depends on how much you weigh when you become pregnant.

Gaining the right amount of weight helps protect the health of your baby. Women who gain too little are at increased risk of having a small baby (less than 5 1/2 pounds). Women who gain too much are at increased risk of having an early baby or a large baby. They may also have health problems themselves such as diabetes, high blood pressure and varicose veins.

Weight gain above guidelines during pregnancy is common, according to researchers, and infants born to women with high weight gain tend to have worse outcomes.

Dr. Naomi E. Stotland, of the University of California, San Francisco, and colleagues examined the association between weight gain during pregnancy and adverse outcomes among 20,465 full-term infants for 20,465 single births. None of the infants were from multiple births.

Mothers' weight gain during pregnancy was categorized using the Institute of Medicine guidelines, as well as by extremes of weight gain, either less than 15.4 lbs. or greater than 39.6 lbs. The authors' findings appear in the September issue of Obstetrics and Gynecology.

Overall, 43.3 percent of the women had weight gain above the Institute of Medicine guidelines and 20.1 percent had weight gain below the guidelines. Twenty-nine percent of women gained more than 39.6 lbs. during pregnancy, and 4.8 percent gained less than 15.4 lbs.

Excessive weight gain was associated with poor Apgar scores, a gauge of how well the baby looks and responds immediately after birth. In addition, excessive weight gain was linked to infant seizures, low blood sugar levels, and a potentially serious breathing condition called meconium aspiration.

Excessive weight gain was also associated with a decreased risk of having a small baby, whereas low weight gain was tied to an increased risk.

Based on the study findings, the researchers recommend that public health efforts emphasize the prevention of excessive weight gain during pregnancy.

What you need to know:

Here are the recommended weight gain guidelines for pregnant women:

If you are normal weight before pregnancy:
Gain 25 to 35 pounds during pregnancy.

If you are overweight before pregnancy:
Gain 15 to 25 pounds during pregnancy.

If you are underweight before pregnancy:
Gain 28 to 40 pounds during pregnancy (depending on your pre-pregnancy weight).

If you have a multiple pregnancy (twins, triplets or more): See your health care provider. You will need to gain more weight during pregnancy depending on the number of babies you are carrying.

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