Young, low-income women gain and keep too many pregnancy pounds

January 1, 2011

Nearly two-thirds of young, low-income, ethnic minority women exceed maximum recommendations for weight gain during pregnancy and more than half retain ≥10 lbs 1 year postpartum, new study findings show.

Nearly two-thirds (62%) of young, low-income, ethnic minority women exceed maximum recommendations for weight gain during pregnancy and more than half (52%) retain ≥10 lbs 1 year postpartum, according to the findings of a recent study.

Researchers included in the study 427 women between the ages of 14 and 25 years receiving prenatal care for singleton pregnancies at 1 of 2 US medical clinics. The women were mostly African American or Hispanic.

About one-fourth of the women were overweight and about another quarter were obese prepregnancy by body mass index standards. Among those who were at normal weight before pregnancy, 4 in 10 were overweight 1 year after giving birth and 1 in 20 were obese. Of those who were overweight before pregnancy, more than half were obese 1 year later.

The authors of the study believe the findings are particularly troublesome given that the participants were young and likely to have more children. These data, they say, support the need for interventions for young, low-income women that lead to better weight management before, during, and after pregnancy in order to avoid maternal long-term obesity and associated cardiovascular disease, hypertension, diabetes, and degenerative joint disease.

Gould Rothberg BE, Magriples U, Kershaw TS, et al. Gestational weight gain and subsequent postpartum weight loss among young, low-income, ethnic minority women. Am J Obstet Gynecol. October 23, 2010. [Epub ahead of print.]