News article

What is the Appropriate Weight Gain During Pregnancy in Overweight and Obese Women?

Posted:  Wednesday, March 18, 2015

The amount of weight gained during pregnancy can affect the immediate and future health of a woman and her infant.

With the population demographics of women who become pregnant changing dramatically over the past decade; more women are overweight or obese at conception. This has led to an ongoing debate as to how much weight such women should gain during pregnancy.

When the Institute of Medicine (IOM) updated its guidelines regarding gestational weight gain last year, it provided clinicians with a basis for practice.

Along with weight-gain guidelines for women that are underweight, normal weight, overweight and obese women, the IOM recommended that those who care for pregnant women should determine a woman’s body mass index (BMI) at the initial prenatal visit and counsel her regarding the benefits of appropriate weight gain, nutrition and exercise, and, especially, the need to limit excessive weight gain to achieve best pregnancy outcomes.

However, it also warned that while balancing the risks of fetal growth, obstetric complications, and maternal weight retention is essential it would remain a challenge in overweight women, especially those with high degrees of obesity until research provides evidence to further refine the recommendations for gestational weight gain.

However, the new reference charts to classify and monitor pregnancy weight gain in severely obese developed by Jennifer A. Hutcheon et will provide a useful start point.

The research team used serial weight gain measurements from different categories of obese women who delivered uncomplicated term pregnancies at Magee-Womens Hospital in Pittsburg PA. They found that the rate of weight gain was minimal until 15-20 weeks and then increased in a slow linear manner until term. The slope of weight gain flatted as pre-pregnancy BMI increased.

The resulting charts are an innovative tool for studying the association between gestational weight gain and adverse pregnancy outcomes.