Your "Muffin Top" Produces a Bigger Baby

Pregnancy weight gain increases birthweight

(RxWiki News) Are you convinced that your muffin top isn't hurting anyone, so there's no need to lose it? Think again. A new study shows that packing on extra pounds is bad for your baby - even if you're not pregnant yet.

University of Oslo researchers found that mothers who gain weight before and during pregnancy have heavier babies.

And during pregnancy, a weight gain of 22 pounds (10 kg) raised birth-weight by 8 ounces (224 g).

"Gaining excess weight is bad for your baby."

The research team also found that women with more education had the heaviest babies. Women with 17 or more years of education (college and beyond) had babies that weighed 3 ounces (79.2 g) more than women with nine years of compulsory education or less (which is equivalent to high school).  

The team looked at 58,383 pregnant women over a seven-year period, comparing their body mass index (BMI) against their weight change during pregnancy.

They found that for every 2.2 pounds (1 kg) of pre-pregnancy BMI gained before conception, the baby’s birth-weight increased by .79 ounces (22.4 g).

This indicates that more educated pregnant women - who likely have higher incomes and greater resources - are most defiant when it comes to maintaining a healthy weight. An explanation for this is unclear; the researchers did not examine the point.

It’s important to help women attain a healthy weight before they get pregnant, said Dr. Unni Mette Stamnes Koepp of the Department of Pediatrics at Soerlandet Hospital at the University of Oslo in Norway.

Additionally, mothers should only gain a moderate amount of weight during pregnancy to avoid excessive birthweight in the baby.

This may help prevent a child from becoming obese in following years, said the researchers.

Childhood obesity is a widespread problem that affects 17% of all children and adolescents in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The rate of childhood obesity has more than tripled in the last 30 years.

To combat the disease, many groups and officials, including First Lady Michelle Obama, have introduced nutrition programs that aim to teach children about healthy eating habits.

Obesity can lead to many long-term health problems including heart disease, prediabetes, type 2 diabetes, sleep apnea, depression, stroke, several types of cancer, and osteoarthritis.

This observational study was conducted by the Norwegian Institute of Public Health and published in the journal Acta Obstetricia et Gynecologica Scandinavia.

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Review Date: 
December 13, 2011