A group of researchers from Columbia University reminded soon-to-be mothers to monitor their weight during pregnancy as excessive gestational weight gain (GWG) increases the risks for obesity.
The study found that seven years after giving birth, women who were overweight during gestation had more body fat and weighed more. In addition, healthy weight during pregnancy was discovered to pose long-term consequences.
In a report issued in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, researchers examined data from 302 African-American and Dominican women who were enrolled at the Columbia Center for Children's Environmental Health Mothers and Newborns Study during 1998 up to 2013.
The study said that five percent of Dominican and African-American women were underweight before pregnancy, 53 percent were of normal weight, 20 percent were overweight and 22 percent were considered obese. In the end, over 64 percent of the women experienced significant weight gain during pregnancy, while 38 percent gained more weight after seven years.
Elizabeth Widen, lead author of the study, explained that the GWG of most of these women were higher than the recommended weight by the 2009 Institute of Medicine (IOM) guidelines.
"Gestational weight gain greater than the IOM recommendations has long-term implications for weight-related health," Widen said.
She also said that the findings showed that underweight, normal weight and slightly overweight women were more physiologically susceptible to the effects of GWG.
For instance, a woman who had a pre-pregnancy BMI of 22, which is considered normal weight, was linked to have three percent increase in body fat and 12 percent increase in weight. Meanwhile, a woman who had a pre-pregnancy BMI of 30, which is considered obese, possibly experienced an increase in body fat and weight but it was not linked to GWG.
Widen recommended that pregnant women should be guided and taught how to gain the proper weight during gestation.
In the United States, almost 47 percent of women were found to have a GWG significantly higher than 2009 IOM guidelines. These guidelines indicated that a woman whose pre-pregnancy BMI was normal should gain 25 to 35 pounds during pregnancy or one pound per week during the second and third trimester. The guidelines also stated that a woman whose pre-pregnancy BMI was underweight should gain 28 to 40 pounds; women who are overweight should gain 15 to 25 pounds and women who are obese should gain 11 to 20 pounds.
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