Excessive weight gain during pregnancy is tied to increased risk of metabolic problems like obesity and type 2 diabetes
Gaining too much weight during pregnancy can dramatically increase a woman's odds of becoming obese later in life and developing associated health problems, which often include type 2 diabetes, according to a new study from a team of British researchers.
Weight gain during pregnancy is expected and actually important for the normal development of an unborn child. In fact, the Institute of Medicine recommends that normal-weight women should put on between 24.2 and 35.2 pounds during pregnancy, while overweight and obese individuals should gain between 15.4 and 19.8 pounds.
However, too much can be harmful, said the University of Bristol researchers who conducted the current study. The team took body mass index (BMI) and weight measurements of 3,877 women throughout their pregnancy and again 16 years after giving birth.
The results, which were published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition
, showed that women who gained more weight during their pregnancy than the Institute of Medicine recommendations were three times more likely to be obese at the end of the 16-year study period than those who experienced more moderate weight gain.
Additionally, the team noted that these women were at a higher risk for the cardiovascular and metabolic dysfunctions associated with obesity, which may include type 2 diabetes. Dr. Abigail Fraser, who led the study, said that medical professionals should be made aware of these findings, as it may help them ensure a healthy future for pregnant women.
"Our findings suggest that regular monitoring of weight in pregnancy may need to be reconsidered because it provides a window of opportunity to prevent health problems later in life," she said.
Additionally, she said that official recommendations for weight gain may need to be revised to reflect the growing knowledge that putting on too many pounds increases the risk of health problems, like type 2 diabetes.