Three-quarters of pregnant women missing healthy weight target

08 June 2017

Gaining too little or too much weight during pregnancy increases the risk of premature births or requiring caesareans.

Three-quarters of women do not gain a healthy amount of weight when pregnant, a new study has found.

In a study led by Dr Helena Teede of Monash University in Victoria, Australia, it was found that gaining too little or too much weight during pregnancy increased the risk of premature births or requiring caesareans, and the prevalence of both obesity and excess gestational weight gain is on the rise.

The data, which covered more than 1.3 million pregnancies, found 47 percent of women gained more weight than the 11kg-15kg recommended by the Institute of Medicine (IOM) - for people who start out pregnancy at a normal weight. And 23 percent of the time, women didn’t gain enough weight.

“Women are rarely aware of healthy weight gain targets in pregnancy and are not generally weighed or supported to reach them,” said Dr Teede. “Health professionals need to be encouraged and trained in having ‘healthy conversations’ introducing relatively simple effective lifestyle interventions to support women before, during and after pregnancy.”

Read more: WATCH: Boxing mom-to-be still in the ring at nine months pregnant

Endorsed guidelines recommended pregnancy gains of 12.5kg to 18kg for underweight women, 11.5kg to 16kg for women of healthy weight, 7kg to 11kg for overweight women, and 5kg to 9kg for obese women.

“For health services and policy makers recognition that effective simple health lifestyle interventions are available and now need to be incorporated into routine care to optimise reach and availability for all women," Dr Teede advised.

Monash University researchers led an international research team which examined more than 5,000 previous studies and analysed pregnancy data from three groups across Asia, the U.S., and Europe but noted it was lacking in studies from developing nations.

The full study has been published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

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