Mother's Weight Gain in Pregnancy Predicts Child Obesity

Researchers have found a connection between the amount of weight a mother gains during her pregnancy and the weight of her child at seven years of age.

Researchers from the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine have found a connection between the amount of weight a mother gains during her pregnancy and the weight of her child at seven years of age. Mothers who gain more weight than the Institute of Medicine’s recommended weight increase guidelines are more likely to have children who are overweight.

The researchers conducted a retrospective cohort study reviewing data from 10,226 participants from the Collaborative Perinatal Project (1959-1972). Assessments during the study were made during gestation, at the birth of the child, and at seven years of age.

The children’s risk of being overweight increased by 3% for every one kilogram of gestational weight gain. And when assessed using the IOM guidelines, children were 48% more likely to be overweight if their mothers had gained more than the recommended guidelines. The IOM recommends that the average woman should gain 25-35 pounds during pregnancy. Women who are overweight should limit their weight gain to 15-25 pounds, while underweight women are encouraged to gain 28-40 pounds.

Lead researcher Brian Wrotniak, PT, PhD, explained that these findings were important because “The earliest determinants of obesity may operate during intrauterine life, and gestational weight gain may influence the environment in the womb in ways that can have long-term consequences on the risk of obesity in children. Adherence to pregnancy weight gain recommendations may be a new and effective way to prevent childhood obesity, since currently almost half of US women exceed these recommendations.”

The full study findings were published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition and can be found here.

Further Information:

Official Press Release from The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia:

http://www.prnewswire.com/cgi-bin/micro_stories.pl?ACCT=159681&TICK=CHOP&STORY=/www/story/06-09-2008/0004828396&EDATE=Jun+9,+2008

Nutrition during Pregnancy — IOM guidelines

http://www.nap.edu/catalog.php?record_id=1451