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Mother’s Weight before Pregnancy More Important Than During, Study Suggests

A recent study has found that weighing more at the onset of pregnancy can increase risk of preterm delivery.

According to researchers, mothers’ weight at the beginning of the pregnancy is more important than weight gained during pregnancy, as it can cause complications such as hypertension, gestational diabetes, and preterm birth. Senior author, Dr. Romy Gaillard, assistant professor of pediatrics at Erasmus MC University Medical Center in Rotterdam, the Netherlands notes, “Pregnancy complications in mothers and their infants occurred in 34% of women with a normal weight and in over 60% of women with severe obesity at the start of their pregnancy. Rather than focusing on maternal weight gain during pregnancy, strategies are needed to optimize maternal weight before the start of pregnancy to improve pregnancy outcomes.”

Dr. Navid Mootabar, chairman of obstetrics and gynecology at Northern Westchester Hospital in Mount Kisco, N.Y. who reviewed the study added that the amount of weight gained during pregnancy is still important and overeating is not advised for expectant mothers.

Reviewers collected data of nearly 200,000 European and North American women with the average age of 30, from 25 studies on the subject. The women were classified on the basis of their body mass index (BMI). 4% of the women were underweight (BMI below 18.5), 68% were of normal weight (BMI 18.5-24.9), 20% were overweight (BMI 25-29.9), and around 8% were obese (BMI 30 and over). The findings showed adverse pregnancy events in 35% of the underweight women, and 61% for women who were obese. The researchers noted limitations to their findings such as self-reported weight, and variation in individual risks.

Reviewer, Dr. Jill Rabin co-chief of Women’s Health Programs-PCAP Services at Northwell Health concludes, “There’s no one-size-fits-all answer. It really depends on how the baby is growing and how mom is utilizing her nutritional input, because everyone utilizes calories differently.”