Women who gain excessive weight during pregnancy are at higher risk of having overweight or obese children later in life, according to a new study published in the medical journal PLOS Medicine and reported by Medical News Today on Wednesday.
Researchers from Boston Children's Hospital looked at 41,133 mothers with two or more children to find out whether childhood obesity was resultant because of the conditions during pregnancy or other factors, such as diet and genes, also played a role.
The results, also published in the journal Women and Birth, show that more than 70% of pregnant women who are overweight or obese under-estimate their weight. Those who under-estimate their weight are more likely to experience a higher rate of weight gain during pregnancy.
Using a within-family design (testing associations within each family), the researchers found that for every kilogram of weight a mother gained during pregnancy, their child's BMI would increase by 0.02 kg/m2 (8%) by age 12.
Because childhood body weight predicts adult body weight, the study authors say their findings suggest that over-nutrition in pregnancy may program the fetus for an increased lifetime risk for obesity, although the magnitude of this effect may be small.
Healthy weight gain in pregnancy
Healthy weight gain in pregnancy is determined by how many babies you're carrying and your weight (specifically your BMI) when you become pregnant. The Mayo Clinic gives some good guidelines for pregnancy weight gain for carrying one child:
- Underweight at pregnancy (BMI less than 18.5) - 28 to 40 pounds
- Normal weight (BMI 18.5 to 24.9) - 25-35 pounds
- Overweight (BMI 25-29.9) - 15-25 pounds
- Obese (BMI of 30 or more) - 11-20 pounds
Read more about exercise and pregnancy weight gain here.
Overweight women are not receiving proper advice on healthy weight gains or appropriate exercise levels during their pregnancies, according to Penn State College of Medicine researchers, which could lead to unnecessary weight gain before birth.
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