Weight Gain

L H Allen and J M Graham, University of California at Davis, Davis, CA, USA

© 2005 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

During the past 40 years, there have been dramatic changes in the recommendations for optimal maternal weight gain during pregnancy. In the past, it was thought that it was necessary to restrict the diet of many pregnant women in order to reduce the perceived risks associated with higher weight gains. The fetus was thought to be relatively unaffected by this advice. In contrast, the current recommendations in the United States are based on weight changes in pregnancy that have been taken from records and known to be compatible with a healthy pregnancy outcome. The US recommendations have been widely accepted by many other Western countries. Because several maternal factors influence the amount of weight gained in pregnancy, these factors have to be taken into consideration when basing recommendations on actual weight gain. The result has been the development of more realistic weight gain guidelines that are based to some extent on the characteristics of the mother. Additional experience has been gained since these guidelines were developed that encompasses a variety of subpopulations including different ethnic groups and overweight women, and the knowledge gained broadens the scope of these recommendations among modern diverse populations. However, there is still much to be learned about the determinants of, and variability in, energy requirements and balance of pregnant women.

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