WASHINGTON -- A growing amount of scientific evidence indicates that how much weight women gain during pregnancy and their starting weight at conception can affect their health and that of their babies, says a new report from the Institute of Medicine and the National Research Council. The report recommends new pregnancy weight gain guidelines for American women that aim to balance the benefits and risks associated with pregnancy weight change. Noting that entering pregnancy with a normal body mass index (BMI) as well as gaining within the recommended levels during gestation are the best ways to minimize the risks, the report calls for increased diet and exercise counseling and programs to help women attain a normal BMI.
The new guidelines update recommendations the Institute of Medicine made in 1990 and reflect changing U.S. demographics, particularly the surge in the number of Americans who are overweight or obese. Healthy American women at a normal weight for their height (BMI of 18.5 to 24.9) should gain 25 to 35 pounds during pregnancy, the new guidelines state. Underweight women (BMI less than 18.5) should gain more, 28 to 40 pounds, and overweight women (BMI of 25 to 29.9) should gain less, 15 to 25 pounds. These ranges match the 1990 guidelines, but the report also specifies a new range for obese women (BMI greater than 30) that limits their gain to 11 to 20 pounds. BMI is based on a person's weight and height; for example, a 5-foot-6-inch woman weighing between 115 and 154 pounds has a normal BMI. Individuals can determine their BMI using this online calculator: www.nhlbisupport.com/bmi/.
The ranges for each BMI category reflect that many factors besides maternal weight and gestational weight gain affect outcomes and the reality that healthy babies are born to women across a spectrum of pregnancy weight changes. Studies consistently show that gaining within the guidelines lowe
|Contact: Christine Stencel|
National Academy of Sciences