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Report updates guidelines on how much weight women should gain during pregnancy
Date:5/28/2009

rs health risks for mothers and children, though this does not mean that every woman who exceeds or falls short of the guidelines or that the babies born to these women will have problems.

"This report gives women and their health care providers an evidence-based answer to the question of how much weight women should gain during pregnancy," said Kathleen M. Rasmussen, professor of nutrition, division of nutritional sciences, Cornell University, Ithaca, N.Y., and chair of the committee that wrote the report. "We call on health professionals to adopt these guidelines and help women follow them so that mothers and their children will have the best health outcomes possible."

Expectant mothers and their care providers need to balance the benefits of pregnancy weight gain for the fetus with the risks of too much or too little increase, which can result in consequences for both mothers and children. For mothers, the ramifications of excess weight gain include increased chances of retaining extra pounds after birth or needing a Caesarean section; for children the risks include being born preterm or larger than normal with extra fat. Each of these consequences increases the chances for subsequent health problems -- such as heart disease and diabetes in the case of extra weight, and impaired development in the case of premature birth. At the same time, adding too few pounds during pregnancy increases risks for stunted fetal growth and preterm delivery.

The report focuses on weight changes during pregnancy, but it also notes that women's weight at conception affects infants and mothers, too. Nearly two-thirds of U.S. women of childbearing age are overweight or obese. To minimize the risks, women should aim to conceive while at a normal BMI and gain within the guidelines during pregnancy, the committee concluded.

Helping women achieve these goals will require health care providers to increase the counseling they give their patients
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Contact: Christine Stencel
news@nas.edu
202-334-2138
National Academy of Sciences
Source:Eurekalert

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