Obesity, excess weight gain during pregnancy linked to heavier babies in African-American women

February 11, 2013

Epidemiologists at Boston University School of Public Health (BUSPH) have found that pre-pregnancy obesity and excess weight gain during pregnancy in African-American women are associated with an increased risk of giving birth to an abnormally large baby. Macrosomia, which is defined as a newborn weighing more than 4,000 grams at birth (approximately 8.8 pounds), can cause delivery complications such as hemorrhage, infection, the need for a caesarean section, preeclampsia and perinatal mortality. The study, which appears online in the journal Obesity, was conducted by researchers at the Slone Epidemiology Center using data from 59,000 African-American women participating in the Black Women's Health Study.

The investigators compared mothers of 691 full term infants weighing more than 4,000 grams with mothers of 5,996 full-term infants weighing less than 4,000 grams. Overall obesity, measured by (BMI) of greater than 30, was associated with a two-fold increased risk of macrosomia. After accounting for differences in BMI, the risk of macrosomia also was significantly higher among women with a pre-pregnancy greater than 35 inches compared with less than 27 inches.

Maternal obesity may increase the risk of macrosomia due to greater energy accumulation by the fetus from increased maternal and . Central adiposity, or weight gain around the waist, also is related to glucose and insulin , independent of overall obesity. Few studies have examined the association between central adiposity and infant birth weight.

Gestational weight gain above the range recommended by the 2009 Institute of Medicine (IOM) guidelines also was associated with an increased risk of macrosomia and the association was present within each category of pre-pregnancy BMI: 25-35 pounds for BMI 18.5-24.9 kg/m2 (normal weight); 15-25 pounds for BMI 25-29.9 kg/m2 (overweight); and 11-20 pounds for BMI ≥30 kg/m2 (obese). These data indicate that overall and central obesity predict the risk of macrosomia, and that pregnancy weight gain is a strong determinant of risk.

"In addition to maintaining a healthy weight and waistline before pregnancy, our data suggest that it is especially important for obese women to adhere to the IOM guidelines for pregnancy weight gain to reduce their risk of ," said senior author Lauren A. Wise, ScD, an associate professor of epidemiology at BUSPH.

Explore further: Excessive pregnancy weight gain raises the risk of having a fat baby

Related Stories

Excessive pregnancy weight gain raises the risk of having a fat baby

June 7, 2011
Women who gain too much weight during pregnancy tend to have newborns with a high amount of body fat, regardless of the mother's weight before pregnancy, a new study finds. The results will be presented Tuesday at The Endocrine ...

Mothers' weight before and during pregnancy affects baby's weight

December 13, 2011
A new study published in the journal Acta Obstetricia et Gynecologica Scandinavica (AOGS) reveals that both pre-pregnant weight (body mass index, BMI) and weight gain in pregnancy are important predictors of babies' birthweight. ...

Excess maternal weight before and during pregnancy can result in larger babies

May 22, 2012
Excess weight in pregnant women, both before pregnancy and gained during pregnancy, is the main predictor of whether mothers will have larger than average babies, which can result in increased risk of cesarean section or ...

Recommended for you

Are sugary drink interventions changing people's behaviour?

July 19, 2017
An evaluation of efforts designed to reduce how many sugary drinks we consume shows some success in changing younger people's habits but warns they cannot be the only way to cut consumption.

Young adult obesity: A neglected, yet essential focus to reverse the obesity epidemic

July 18, 2017
The overall burden of the U.S. obesity epidemic continues to require new thinking. Prevention of obesity in young adults, while largely ignored as a target for prevention and study, will be critical to reversing the epidemic, ...

Weight gain from early to middle adulthood may increase risk of major chronic diseases

July 18, 2017
Cumulative weight gain over the course of early and middle adulthood may increase health risks later in life, according to a new study led by researchers from Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. They found that, compared ...

Study finds children carry implicit bias towards peers who are overweight

June 23, 2017
Even children as young as 9 years old can carry a prejudice against their peers who are overweight, according to a new study led by Duke Health researchers. They might not even realize they feel this way.

Mother's obesity boosts risk for major birth defects: study

June 15, 2017
Children of obese women are more likely to be afflicted by major birth defects, including malformations of the heart and genitals, according to a study published on Thursday.

New study finds more than 2 billion people overweight or obese

June 12, 2017
Globally, more than 2 billion children and adults suffer from health problems related to being overweight or obese, and an increasing percentage of people die from these health conditions, according to a new study.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.