One downside of a pregnancy is that it not uncommonly results in unwanted extra poundage. In addition to causing distress, it can also make the next pregnancy less safe for both the mother and her newborn. These risks were pointed out by researchers from Belgium and The Netherlands; the findings were published in the November 2013 edition of Obstetrics & Gynecology.
The study authors note that the prevalence of obesity among women of reproductive age is increasing in most developed nations to worrisome rates. Therefore, they conducted a study to examine the relationship between interpregnancy weight change and the risk for adverse maternal and neonatal outcomes. For the study, they examined the medical records of all live-born single pregnancy births delivered at 21–42 weeks of gestation in women who had their first two consecutive births between 2009 and 2011 in Flanders (the northern part of Belgium) and who were included in the Study Center for Perinatal Epidemiology database (7,897 women). Interpregnancy weight change was calculated as the difference between the prepregnancy body mass index (BMI) of the first pregnancy and the prepregnancy BMI of the second pregnancy. A statistical analysis was conducted to predict gestational diabetes, pregnancy-induced hypertension (PIH; toxemia), cesarean delivery, macrosomia (a large infant weighing 4,000 grams (8 pounds, 13 ounces) or more), low birth weight (less than 2,500 grams (5 pounds, 8 ounces)), and congenital malformations.
The researchers found a 2.25-fold increased risk for gestational diabetes mellitus for women whose interpregnancy weight retention was 2 or more BMI units. They found a 3.76-fold increased risk for pregnancy-induced hypertension for women whose weight increased 3 or more BMI units between pregnancies. However, these associations were only present in underweight and normal-weight women. In overweight and obese women, the risk of a cesarean delivery increased 2.4-fold for women who had an interpregnancy weight retention of 2 or more BMI units. In underweight and normal-weight women, the risk for macrosomia was decreased by 50% if they lost more than 1 BMI unit between pregnancies; however, concurrently, the risk for a low birth weight infant doubled.
The authors concluded that weight retention between the first and second pregnancy was associated with an increased risk for perinatal complications, even in underweight and normal-weight women. They noted that stabilizing interpregnancy weight appeared to be an important target for reducing adverse perinatal outcomes in a second pregnancy.
Take home message:
This study notes that excess poundage following a pregnancy not only damages a woman’s self-image but also increases risks to both mother and fetus during a subsequent pregnancy. Numerous fitness programs abound in Los Angeles; thus, it is prudent to avail yourself of one. A healthy diet is also a component of a fitness program. A healthy diet and exercise program will not only improve your appearance but also optimize the chance for a good outcome with your next pregnancy.