NPR logo Too Much Weight For Mom During Pregnancy Raises Obesity Risk For Baby

Your Health

Too Much Weight For Mom During Pregnancy Raises Obesity Risk For Baby

pregnant woman

More weight for mom, means more weight for baby. iStockphoto.com hide caption

toggle caption iStockphoto.com

If there was any doubt left about the hazards of too much weight gain during pregnancy, an analysis of births in New Jersey and Michigan over more than a decade may settle things.

Women who put on a lot of weight while pregnant were much more likely to have heavier kids at birth than those whose weight gain was modest.

For women who added more than about 53 pounds, their babies were more than twice as likely to weigh more than 8.8 pounds as compared with women who put on around 18 to 22 pounds.

Now, you might be thinking that having a bigger infant is a good thing. And while it's certainly the case that having a baby who weighs too little can lead to health problems, an overweight infant isn't such a great idea either.

Way back in 1976, some other researchers found that being a very big baby is strongly associated with becoming an overweight adult.

So these latest findings, just published online by the Lancet, underscore the advice to women limit how much weight they put on during pregnancy, both for their own sake and for the future health of their children.

How much weight gain is OK? That depends on a woman's body mass index, or BMI. For obese women (BMI greater than 30), a good weight-gain target is 11 to 20 pounds. Women in good health and with a normal BMI (that's 18.5 to 24.9) should gain 25 to 35 pounds during pregnancy. Underweight women (BMI less than 18.5) should put on more weight — 28 to 40 pounds. And overweight women (BMI of 25 to 29.9) should keep the gain to 15 to 25 pounds.

For still more, check out the Institute of Medicine's 2009 update to weight gain guidelines during pregnancy.

Comments

 

Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the NPR.org Community rules and terms of use, and will be moderated prior to posting. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.