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Experts Urge Less Weight Gain for Obese Women in Pregnancy
Date:5/28/2009

New guidelines suggest adding no more than 20 pounds

THURSDAY, May 28 (HealthDay News) -- Obese moms-to-be should limit their weight gain during pregnancy to between 11 and 20 pounds to safeguard their health and that of their baby, according to newly updated expert guidelines.

That level of gestational weight gain is about half whats recommended for normal-weight pregnant women and reflects the concern over the rising number of obese expectant mothers in the United States.

The new guidelines -- the first since 1990 -- were issued jointly May 28 by the Institute of Medicine and the National Research Council.

"We looked at a balance of maternal outcomes related to weight gain in pregnancy and issues related to the outcome for the fetus and neonate," explained Dr. Patrick M. Catalano, chairman of obstetrics and gynecology at Case Western Reserve University and a member of the committee that wrote the new guidelines.

"There is good evidence that the amount of gestational weight gain for an obese woman can be related to the risk of needing a cesarean delivery and retention of weight gain after pregnancy, which puts the woman at further risk in future pregnancies," Catalano said.

Doctors typically define overweight as a body mass index (BMI) of between 25 and 30 and obesity as a BMI of 30 and above. BMI is based on weight and height; for example, a 5-foot-6-inch tall woman weighing between 115 and 154 pounds would have a BMI in the normal range.

But children born to overweight or obese moms face a rise in risk for preterm birth or being larger than normal at delivery, with extra fat, Catalano noted. Babies born large can suffer stuck shoulders and broken collar bones, experts say, and are prone to overweight or obesity and type 2 diabetes later in life. And an overly large newborn poses risks for the mother at delivery, including vaginal tearing, bleeding and often the need for a cesarea
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