pregnant woman

New CDC study: Nearly half of U.S. women gain too much weight while pregnant

November 13, 2015
pregnant woman

Is it time for moms-to-be to replace eating “twice as much” with “twice as healthy?”

For many pregnant women, the old adage “eating for two” may not be the best advice to follow. A new CDC study found nearly half of U.S. mothers gain too much weight during pregnancy. Is it time for moms-to-be to replace eating “twice as much” with eating “twice as healthy?”

“In a perfect world, each patient would be told at their first visit how much she should gain and how most of that weight gain occurs in the latter half of pregnancy,” said Ingrid Brown, M.D., FACOG, clinical assistant professor at the Texas A&M Health Science College of Medicine, a board certified OB/GYN and fellow of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.

Results of the study concluded only a third of women gain the recommended amount of weight, and a fifth gained too little weight. Overweight and obese women were most likely to surpass the guidelines.

Researchers at the CDC’s Division of Reproductive Health examined birth certificates from almost three million women in 46 states and the District of Columbia, in order to determine the mothers’ height and weight before and after their pregnancies. Their research found the number of women who gained too much weight was higher in almost every single state.

According to Brown, most women don’t gain excessive weight in the first trimester but that doesn’t mean it won’t happen later. “Pregnant women need to be cautious about their eating habits and exercise regularly to manage weight gain,” she said.

Women should consume extra calories while pregnant, although not too many – only about 350-450 more during their second or third trimester. The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommend women with a normal body mass index gain 28 to 40 pounds during pregnancy. According to the guidelines, overweight women should gain 15 to 25 pounds and obese women should only gain 11 to 20 pounds. Women who are underweight should gain 28 to 40 pounds.

Being underweight increases the risk the baby will be born very small while too much weight can lead to obesity and other health problems in the mother. Excessive weight gain also raises the risk for the baby to become obese or diabetic.

The CDC authors say it’s never too early for health care providers and their pregnant patients to begin keeping track of weight­–it’s better for mom and for baby.

— Lauren Thompson

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