Recommended gestational weight gain linked to childhood obesity

May 1, 2007

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Women who gain weight in pregnancy that is within or above the recommended guidelines are more likely to have a child who is overweight at 3 years of age, according to a report in the April issue of the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology. The findings suggest that recommended weight gain in pregnancy may need to be reevaluated.

Emily Oken, MD, of Harvard Medical School in Boston, and colleagues studied the association of gestational weight gain and childhood adiposity in 1,044 mother-child pairs enrolled in Project Viva, a prospective cohort study of pregnant women and their children. Gestational weight gain was measured as the last recorded weight before birth less pre-pregnancy weight.

Women with greater weight gain were more likely to have a 3-year-old child with a higher body mass index, higher subscapular and tricep skinfold thickness, and higher blood pressure compared with women who had lower weight gain. Women categorized into average or excessive weight gain based on Institute of Medicine recommendations had children with a higher risk of obesity than did women with inadequate weight gain.

Oken E, Taveras EM, Kleinman KP, et al. Gestational weight gain and child adiposity at age 3 years. Am J Obstet Gynecol. 2007;196:322.e1-e8.