For years, doctors and other health-care providers have managed pregnant patients according to guidelines issued by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG). In 1986, ACOG stated, "Regardless of how much women weigh before they become pregnant, gaining between 26-35 pounds during pregnancy can improve the outcome of pregnancy and reduce their chances of having the pregnancy end in fetal death." Until its revised guidelines were released yesterday, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) had recommended that overweight women should gain about 15 pounds during pregnancy.
The current study was undertaken to test whether these guidelines make a difference in maternal-fetal outcomes among obese women. In the study, conducted at several hospitals, the researchers followed 232 obese pregnant women, all of whom had a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or greater. Half of the women followed conventional prenatal nutritional guidelines, which is essentially "eat to appetite" (control group). The other half were placed on a well-balanced, nutritionally monitored program, which included a daily food diary (study group). The average weight gain in the control group was 31 pounds, compared to 11 pounds in the study group. Twenty-three extremely obese patients lost weight during their pregnancy.
The findings showed that there were no fetal deaths and no growth-restricted infants in the study group. Also, there were fewer babies weighing more than 10 pounds in the study group than in the control group. (A birth weight over 10 pounds poses significant hazards to both infants and mothers.) Moreover, women in the study group gained less weight, had fewer cesarean deliveries, were less likely to develop gestational diabetes, and retained less weight after they delivered than women in the control group.
The researchers concluded that obese pregnant women may be placed on a healthy, well balanced, monitored nutritional program without adverse mat
|Contact: Donna E. Moriarty, M.P.H.|
New York Medical College