In a new study, researchers find that if a woman gains either too much or too little weight during pregnancy, there are bad effects in children at 7 years of age.
The study is done by The Chinese University of Hong Kong.
Previous research has shown the effects of weight gain during pregnancy (gestational weight gain or GWG), but effects on the metabolic effects in the children after born are not clear.
In the study, the team evaluated the relationship between GWG and cardiometabolic risk in offspring aged 7 years.
It included a total of 905 mother-child pairs in Hong Kong.
Women were classified as having gained weight below, within or exceeding the 2009 Institute of Medicine (IOM) guidelines.
Also factored in the study were standardized GWG values based on the pre-pregnancy body-mass index (BMI).
Among the 905 women, the mean pre-pregnancy BMI was 21 kg/m2, the total prevalence of overweight and/or obese participants was 8.3%.
The weight change from pre-pregnancy to delivery was 15kg on average, with 17% having gained weight below, 42% had gained weight within and 41% had gained weight exceeding the IOM recommendation.
The team found women who gained more weight than the IOM recommendation had a baby with larger body size at age 7 years and increased odds of higher body fat, high blood pressure, and poor blood sugar control.
On the other hand, women who gained less than the recommendation had offspring with increased risks of high blood pressure and poor blood sugar control at 7 years of age, compared with those who gained weight within the recommended range.
The researchers suggest their findings have important implications for both prevention and treatment.
There is a need for greater awareness and monitoring of weight gain during pregnancy.
Pregnancy might be a window of opportunity for intervention through modifiable behaviors, including maternal nutrition and physical activity.
The study is published in Diabetologia.
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