Weight Gain During Pregnancy: Effects on Mother and Child

Two different studies, both utilizing data collected from the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children, provide convincing arguments for not “letting yourself go” during pregnancy.

The first, titled “Association of Maternal Weight Gain in Pregnancy With Offspring Obesity and Metabolic and Vascular Traits in Childhood,” was published in the American Heart Association’s journal Circulation in April, 2010. As the name implies, the researchers were interested in finding out whether a mother’s prepregnancy weight and her weight gain during pregnancy had an effect on her child. Their results indicate that indeed there is a connection. Women who gained more weight than the amount recommended by the Institute of Medicine in 2009, had children with higher body mass index (BMI), higher systolic blood pressure, higher levels of C-reactive protein (a common indicator of heart problems), and lower levels of HDL, or good cholesterol. In addition, women whose BMI was high prior to becoming pregnant also tended to have children with higher BMIs, higher blood pressure, and other negative heart health factors.

The second study was published just last month in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, and is titled “Associations of gestational weight gain with maternal body mass index, waist circumference, and blood pressure measured 16 y after pregnancy: the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children.” This study looked specifically at the mothers’ health, and found that women who gained more weight than recommended during their pregnancies were more likely to have a high BMI, a high waist circumference measurement (this is another common indicator of potential heart problems), and high blood pressure 16 years after they gave birth.

Here is the main takeaway from these two studies:


  • Women who are thinking about becoming pregnant should do their best to reach a healthy weight before they conceive.



  • Women who are pregnant should not use pregnancy as an excuse to let loose and eat anything and everything in sight, nor should they abandon their exercise routines.





  • If you’ve got questions about how much weight you should be gaining, talk to your doctor. The Institute of Medicine guidelines are simply that, and every pregnancy is different and unique.



  • Both of these studies looked at mothers of singleton pregnancies—if you’re expecting twins or more then you’re playing by a whole different set of rules!



About Becky

I am a personal trainer, lifestyle and weight management consultant, and group fitness instructor living in New York City. My focus is on helping women get into shape, lose weight, and generally live a healthy and happy life.
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