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Women Gaining or Losing Too Much Weight During Pregnancy Are At Risk For Having An Obese Child

Update Date: Apr 14, 2014 09:10 AM EDT

Gaining too much weight or loosing it during pregnancy increases the risk of having an overweight or obese child, according to a new study. 

The study is one of the largest to examine current Institute of Medicine recommendations regarding pregnancy weight gain in relation to childhood obesity. The study involved review of electronic health records of more than four thousand racially diverse female members of Kaiser Permanente in Northern California. The participants of the study had completed a health survey between 2007 and 2009 and eventually had a baby.

The study subsequently reviewed the medical records of those children between 2 and 5 years old and came up with the following findings: 

Among all women who gained more than the recommended weight during pregnancy, 20.4 percent of their children were overweight or obese, compared with 19.5 percent in women who gained less than recommended weight and 14.5 percent in women who gained weight within the guidelines.

Women with a normal Body Mass Index measurement before pregnancy who gained less than the recommended amount were 63 percent more likely to have a child who became overweight or obese.

Women with a normal BMI before pregnancy with weight gain above recommendations were 80 percent more likely to have an overweight or obese child.

"The stronger association we found among normal weight women who gained too much or too little weight during pregnancy suggests that perhaps weight gain in pregnancy may have an impact on the child that is independent of genetic factors," said senior investigator Monique M. Hedderson, PhD, Kaiser Permanente Division of Research in Oakland, Calif, according to press release. 

The study has been published in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology.

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