Gestational Weight a Leading Concern for Pregnancy Complications

Lately, the researchers have always been focusing on the amount of weight a woman gains after pregnancy, however, one of the latest researches suggests how much a woman weighs before pregnancy holds much more importance. The study shows that the greater a woman weights before pregnancy the higher are the chances are of her developing pregnancy complications like high blood pressure, gestational diabetes, preterm birth, preeclampsia, and cesarean delivery.

The research paper “Association of Gestational Weight Gain with Adverse Maternal and Infant Outcomes” was published on 7th May 2019 in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

“Pregnancy complications in mothers and their infants occurred in 34% of women with a normal weight and in over 60% of women with severe obesity at the start of their pregnancy,” said Dr. Romy Gaillard a lead study author and an assistant lecturer of pediatrics at Erasmus MC University Medical Center in Rotterdam, the Netherlands.

She further said, “Rather than focusing on maternal weight gain during pregnancy, strategies are needed to optimize maternal weight before the start of pregnancy to improve pregnancy outcomes.”

This research totally does not supports binge eating during pregnancy as weight gain during pregnancy still is a matter of concern, said Dr. Navid Mootabar, chairman of obstetrics and gynecology at Northern Westchester Hospital in Mount Kisco, N.Y.

“The take-home is that if you want a healthy pregnancy, it’s not as much about maintaining the proper weight gain during pregnancy as it is about going into pregnancy with proper pre-pregnancy weight,” said Mootabar, who surveyed the study findings.

Lately, obesity has become a major concern in the health industry not only in the United States but all over the world. According to Gillard women during their reproductive age mainly suffers from obesity.

To study what effect might weight before and during pregnancy will make on the results of pregnancy, researchers studied 25 studies involving 200,000 women. Data for these 25 studies were collected between 1989 and 2015. Upon calculating the average the women aged 30 and were from Europe and North America.

Researchers grouped the women on the basis of weight status using the body mass index. BMI is a rough estimation of how much your body stores fat in accordance with your age and height. For instance, a 5-foot 5-inch woman weighing 148 pounds will have a BMI of 24.6 which is categorized as a healthy weight.

Upon categorizing, the following results were obtained,

• 4% of the women were underweight having a BMI under 18.5
• 68% of the women had normal weight having a BMI between 18.5 and 24.9
• 20% of the women were categorized as overweight having a BMI between 25 and 29.9
• 8% of the women were obese who had their BMI above 30

The obese category was further categorized as follows,

• 6% were grouped as grade 1 having a BMI between 30 and 34.9
• 2% were grouped as grade 2 having a BMI between 35.0 and 35.9
• 0.5% were grouped as grade 3 having a BMI above 40

Only 37% of the pregnancies faced complications. 35% of the underweight women faced adverse events as compared to 61% of the obese women (grade 3).

Gillard explained that weight gain guidelines can be useful for guiding women but this cannot predict their risk for pregnancy complications. Dr. Jill Rabin went through the study who is a co-chief of the division of ambulatory care, Women’s Health Programs-PCAP Services at Northwell Health in New Hyde Park, N.Y.

She noticed some limitations in the weight gain data of the study collected during the pregnancy including the self-reported pregnancy weights. Rabin emphasized that the goal of the study is to focus on pre-pregnancy weight.

“Pregnancy isn’t a sprint, it’s a marathon. What’s important, really, is how are you going into pregnancy? And, it’s not just weight, we need to optimize other metabolic and nutrition factors before conception,” Rabin said.

Weight gain during pregnancy largely varies from person to person. “There’s no one-size-fits-all answer. It really depends on how the baby is growing and how mom is utilizing her nutritional input because everyone utilizes calories differently,” she explained.

Rabin advises women to consult doctors for their pre-conception planning. According to Mootabar, Women “need to get in touch with their providers before getting pregnant to discuss their risk factors. What happens now is a lot of women don’t show up to their doctors until after they’re already pregnant.”

Adeena Tariq

Adeena's professional life has been mostly in hospital management, while studying international business in college. Of course, she now covers topics for us in health.

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