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New guidelines for pregnancy weight gain

Thursday, May 28, 2009

New guidelines are setting how much weight women should gain during pregnancy - surprisingly little if they're already overweight or obese when they conceive.

The most important message: Get to a healthy weight before you conceive, say the Institute of Medicine's guidelines, the first national recommendations on pregnancy weight since 1990. It's healthiest for the mother - less chance of pregnancy-related high blood pressure or diabetes, or the need for a C-section - and it's best for the baby, too. Babies born to overweight mothers have a greater risk of premature birth and becoming overweight themselves, among other concerns.

That's a tall order, considering that about 55 percent of women of childbearing age are overweight and preconception care isn't that common.

Once a woman's pregnant, the guidelines issued Thursday aren't too different from what obstetricians already recommend - but they're not easy, considering about half of women fail to follow them today.

Among the advice: -A normal-weight woman, as measured by BMI or body mass index, should gain between 25 and 35 pounds during pregnancy. A normal BMI, a measure of weight for height, is between 18.5 and 24.9.

-An overweight woman - BMI 25 to 29.9 - should gain 15 to 25 pounds during pregnancy.


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