A new study has found that the "eat for two" adage during pregnancy may have a negative impact on the health of the mother as well as the baby.
In the study, Alison Stuebe, M.D., assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Medicine, found that women who consumed extra calories, as well as fried foods and dairy, had excessive gestational weight gain.
Stuebe reviewed data for more than 1,300 women and found that those who consumed extra calories, as well as fried foods and dairy products, were more likely to gain more than is recommended during pregnancy - that's 35 pounds or more for a woman with a normal body mass index, or BMI.
Stuebe found that eating an extra 500 calories a day increased the odds of gaining too much by 10 percent.
Gaining too much weight is linked with complications at birth, such as pre-eclampsia or requiring a C-section, as well as higher odds that both mom and child will be obese later in life.
However, the study also found that several eating habits reduced moms' risk of gaining too much. Women with vegetarian diets in early pregnancy were half as likely to gain an unhealthy amount of weight, and those who exercised vigorously for a half hour a day reduced their risk by 20 percent.
The researchers also found that consuming more monounsaturated fat, found in olive oil and nuts, was linked with a lower risk of excessive weight gain.
The results were published May 19, 2009, in the online version of the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology.