Most mothers are encouraged to eat healthy during pregnancy. This obviously means a fat-rich diet, so that your growing baby gets all the nutrition she needs. However, this also puts mothers at the risk of being obese. According to a recent study, there’s an optimal weight gain that’s recommended.The researchers devised a calculator to help mothers understand their ideal weight gain in order to achieve the safest birth outcome.
The researchers behind the study, from Centre Hospitalier Universitaire Sud Reunion in France, reveal the optimal weight gain for women that would give them a balanced risk of having a very small or very large baby. “The results of our research provide a solution to the conundrum affecting the 135 million pregnancies per year on this planet,” said lead author Dr. Pierre-Yves Robillard.
“Women want to know what their optimal weight gain should be to have their baby as safely as possible, and their maternity care providers want to know what advice they can give women throughout their pregnancy. While our results show the recommendations are fine for women in the normal weight range, we have shown they are not ideal for very underweight and very overweight women.”
There is a strong link between the weight of mother and baby: very underweight mothers tend to have smaller babies – called small for gestational age (SGA) babies – and morbidly obese mothers tend to have more large for gestational age (LGA) babies. These babies are at higher risk of conditions like heart attacks, hypertension, obesity and diabetes as adults than babies born at normal weight.
There are other disadvantages to being obese during pregnancy. According to Dr Meenakshi Ahuja, director obstetrics and gynecology, Fortis La Femme, “During pregnancy, an obese mother is at risk of gestational diabetes, hypertension, and preeclampsia – the last being most dangerous for foetal health. Obesity during this period can be detrimental to the health of mother and child later in life, as studies have indicated higher risk of heart diseases and hypertension in children whose mothers were obese during pregnancy than those who were born to non-obese mothers.”
So what’s the ideal weight gain?
The first finding was that only women with a normal BMI had a balanced risk of having an SGA or LGA baby (both 10% risk); they call this crossing point the Maternal Fetal Corpulence Symbiosis (MFCS). According to the study, a woman with a BMI of 17 should gain about 22kg instead of the recommended 12.5-18 kg. An obese woman with a BMI of 32 should gain 3.6 kg instead of the recommended 5-9 kg. And very obese women with a BMI of 40 should actually lose 6kg.
Why is this important, especially in Indian context? ”In Indian parents and society expect young babies to be plump, which is considered as the sign of being healthy. However, at times due to changing lifestyle, such babies are unable to shed the extra weight even when activity increases. Introducing feeds early is also a significant contributor, as mother’s milk is the best feed for a child during infancy,” adds Dr Ahuja.
(With inputs from ANI)
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