Intervention helps control pregnancy-related weight

March 10, 2011

An easy-to-use behavioral intervention helps normal-weight women manage weight gain during pregnancy and facilitates return to prepregnant weight after delivery in overweight and obese women as well as normal-weight women, a new randomized, controlled, multicenter study reports.

An easy-to-use behavioral intervention helps normal-weight women manage weight gain during pregnancy and facilitates return to prepregnant weight after delivery in overweight and obese women as well as normal-weight women, a new randomized, controlled, multicenter study reports.

In the “Fit for Delivery” study, researchers assigned 400 women to receive either behavioral intervention or standard care. Among normal-weight women in the intervention group, 40.2% gained more weight than recommended by Institute of Medicine guidelines compared with 52.1% of women who received standard care. Six months after delivery, 35.6% of the intervention group were at or below their prepregnancy weight compared with only 20.7% of women who received standard care.

Differences in excess pregnancy weight gain between overweight and obese women who received the intervention and those receiving standard care weren’t statistically significant (66.7% vs 61.1%). After delivery, however, a statistically significant 25.6% in the intervention group returned to their prepregnancy weight compared with 16.7% of women receiving standard care.

“This study suggests that a lifestyle intervention can help women manage their weight during pregnancy, prevent health problems during pregnancy, and reduce weight retention after having a baby,” says lead author Suzanne Phelan, MD. “One of the next steps is to implement the intervention as part of standard care. We designed the intervention with dissemination in mind, and so another study will test its effects as part of clinical practice.”

The researchers speculate that obese and overweight women might have had more success in returning to their prepregnant weight than managing weight gain during pregnancy because they learned skills during pregnancy that they were able apply after delivery, although not during the pregnancy itself.

The study was published online February 10 in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.