While pregnancy and weight gain go hand in hand, a report by an Indian-origin researcher has cautioned that too much or too less than the recommended amount of weight gain during pregnancy might prove risky not only for the mother but the baby as well.
The new report by Meera Viswanathan, Ph.D., a senior research analyst at the RTI International-University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Evidence-based Practice Center, is based on a systematic review of 150 studies, between January 1990 and October 2007, examining the short- and long-term effects of maternal weight gain on pregnancy, mothers, fetuses, and children.
The report indicated that there is a strong link between high maternal weight gain and increased foetal growth and infant birth weight, which can create complications during labor if a baby is too big, and can lead to long term health effects for the child.
Besides, high maternal weight gain is also associated with caesarean delivery and weight retention by mothers after childbirth.
Also, the findings of the review confirmed that gaining too little weight during pregnancy can be a problem. Low maternal weight gain is linked to poor foetal growth, lower birth weight, and the chance of a baby being born prematurely.
The report came as a result of the trend that more and more pregnant women in America were overweight and obese, and there were an increasing number of women who gained much more weight in pregnancy than suggested by the Institute of Medicine's 1990 recommendations for maternal weight gain. Also, health officials were worried about an increase in pregnancy complications such as diabetes and caesarean delivery.
In fact, The Institute of Medicine is also reviewing its pregnancy weight guidelines to see if they need to be revised.
"Unfortunately, the existing body of research on maternal weight gain is inadequate to permit a more comprehensive assessment. Most beneficial would be an analysis that considers the risks and potential benefits of various maternal weight-gain scenarios to all women - irrespective of age, race or ethnicity, or their body mass index before they became pregnant. But such an analysis is not possible at this time," said Viswanathan.