Too much weight in pregnancy can make baby fat

Fri Oct 31, 2008 9:58am EDT
 
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By Julie Steenhuysen

CHICAGO (Reuters) - Women who gain more than 40 pounds (18 kg ) during pregnancy have nearly twice the risk of delivering a heavy baby as those who gain less, U.S. researchers said on Friday.

The study of more than 40,000 U.S. women and their babies found as many as one in five women gains too much weight during pregnancy, doubling the chances her baby will weigh 9 pounds (4 kg) or more.

And they found women who gain more than 40 pounds during pregnancy are more likely to have a heavy baby even if they do not have gestational diabetes, a short-term form of diabetes linked with pregnancy that is known to increase the risk of having a big baby.

"Because there are so many women who are gaining more than 40 pounds during pregnancy, it's an important health message for most women to avoid excessive weight during pregnancy," Dr. Teresa Hillier of Kaiser Permanente Center for Health Research in Portland, Oregon, whose study appears in the journal Obstetrics & Gynecology, said in a telephone interview.

Hillier said gaining extra weight during pregnancy increases the risk for having heavy babies, and studies suggest these babies are programed to become overweight or obese later in life.

According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, babies who weigh more than 9 pounds at birth are considered heavy.

A large baby can pose risks for a difficult delivery -- increasing the chances of vaginal tearing, bleeding, and Caesarian-sections for the mother and the risk of stuck shoulders and broken collar bones for the baby.

In the study, Hillier and colleagues examined the medical records of 41,540 women who gave birth in Washington, Oregon and Hawaii from 1995-2003. All had been tested for gestational diabetes and 5.4 percent were treated for it with a program of diet, exercise and insulin, if needed, to control blood sugar.   Continued...

 
<p>Babies in a file photo. REUTERS/Simon Thong</p>