Excessive Weight Gain During Pregnancy can Affect Children in Adolescence
Weight gain during pregnancy, or at any time, is a “weighty” subject for most women. Doctors encourage most women to gain an average of 25 to 35 pounds during a typical pregnancy. Newer guidelines from the Institute of Medicine for pregnancy weight gain take into account a woman’s Body Mass Index (BMI) and weight before the pregnancy starts, which past ones did not. For those starting at a higher than optimum weight and/or have a higher BMI, doctors may suggest she gain as little as 10 to 15 total pounds during a pregnancy.
These recommendations don’t have anything to do with the physical look of the mother or because of some concern about how quickly she will (or will not) be able to take those pregnancy pounds off after the baby. No, doctors recommend these weight gain guidelines because when mothers gain more than the recommended weight they can put their babies at risk. Experts from the March of Dimes who worked on the Institute of Medicine’s updated guidelines for pregnancy weight gain presented the research behind those ideas at a luncheon on December 6, 2011.
One of those experts, Anna Maria Siega-Riz, Ph.D., RD, professor of Epidemiology and Nutrition at the University of North Carolina, Gillings School of Global Public Health, believes maintaining a healthy weight is important for women to live a high quality life. At the luncheon she said, “Conceiving at a healthy weight that is the result of eating nutritious foods, being physically active, and having emotional balance sets the pregnancy off to the best start possible.” March of Dimes research shows the health risks of a mother gaining excessive weight during pregnancy can continue for the mother and increases the risk of the child developing high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and insulin resistance later in life.
The March of Dimes encourages pregnant women to check in with their doctor even before getting pregnant to make sure they are in their optimal health. Any issues with weight, diabetes, high blood pressure or infections can be discussed beforehand so the woman can potentially work on alleviating the problems before conception occurs. At this time, doctors can also talk to the woman about good nutrition and exercise habits as well as pregnancy risks like smoking, drinking alcohol, and occupational exposures.
Institute of Medicine. Web. 7 December 2011. “Weight gain during pregnancy: Re-examining the guidelines.”
Marketwatch.com. Web. Published: 6 December 2011. “Overweight pregnancy can have long term health consequences for children.”