Major Weight Shifts Up or Down Place Pregnancies at Risk

Major shifts in a woman's weight between pregnancies can lead to serious health implications for an unborn child, according to two studies from the British Medical Journal. While weight and obesity concern women in regard to lifestyle and body image, many are unaware that weight fluctuations between pregnancies can cause complications for both the child and the expectant mother.

The first study examined over 200,000 women from the beginning of their first pregnancy to the start of their second. If a woman's body mass index (BMI) increased by one to two units, researchers discovered increased rates of pre-eclampsia, diabetes in the mother, high blood pressure and high birth weight.

An increased BMI of three units greatly increased the rate of stillbirths. Authors of the study stress that women of normal weight should avoid gaining weight and overweight women would benefit from weight loss before becoming pregnant again. The second study observed whether a change in a mother's nutritional balance increases the risk of premature birth.

For women whose BMI fell by five or more units between pregnancies, researchers found a greater risk of premature birth than for women whose weight increased or remained stable. Both studies illustrate the importance of healthy weight before, during, and after pregnancy. These results demonstrate that women should follow a healthy diet and lifestyle to achieve the best start in life for their children.


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