New weight gain guidelines established for pregnant women
|May 29, 2009|
New guidelines for how much weight a woman should gain during pregnancy have been established by a national team of physicians and health care professionals, including University of North Carolina Gillings School of Global Public Health epidemiology and nutrition associate professor, Anna Maria Siega-Riz, PhD.
Siega-Riz was one of four team members who presented the new guidelines at a news conference May 28 at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C.
“This work has important implications for the lives of women given that in any one year approximately 4 million women give birth,” Siega-Riz said.
The team, established by the Institute of Medicine and the National Research Council, recommends new pregnancy weight gain guidelines for American women that aim to balance the benefits and risks associated with pregnancy weight change. Their report, issued May 29, 2009, calls for increased diet and exercise counseling and programs to help women attain a normal body mass index (BMI).
The new guidelines update recommendations the Institute of Medicine made in 1990 and reflect changing U.S. demographics, particularly the surge in the number of Americans who are overweight or obese. Healthy American women at a normal weight for their height should gain 25 to 35 pounds during pregnancy, the guidelines state. Underweight women should gain more, 28 to 40 pounds, and overweight women should gain less, 15 to 25 pounds. These ranges match the 1990 guidelines, but the report also specifies a new range for obese women (BMI greater than 30) that limits their gain to 11 to 20 pounds.
BMI is based on a person’s weight and height; for example, a 5-foot-6-inch woman weighing between 115 and 154 pounds has a normal BMI. Individuals can determine their BMI using an online calculator.
Studies consistently show that gaining within the guidelines lowers health risks for mothers and children, though this does not mean that every woman who exceeds or falls short of the guidelines – or that the babies born to these women – will have problems.
“This report gives women and their health care providers an evidence-based answer to the question of how much weight women should gain during pregnancy,” said Kathleen M. Rasmussen, professor of nutrition, division of nutritional sciences, Cornell University, Ithaca, N.Y., and chair of the committee that wrote the report. “We call on health professionals to adopt these guidelines and help women follow them so that mothers and their children will have the best health outcomes possible.”
The study was sponsored by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) Health Resources Services Administration, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Institutes of Health (National Institute of Child Health and Development, National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, and Division of Nutrition Research Coordination), HHS Office of Women’s Health, and the HHS Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion; and the March of Dimes.
Additional support was provided by the HHS Office of Minority Health (National Minority AIDS Council). The National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering, Institute of Medicine, and National Research Council make up the National Academies. They are private, nonprofit institutions that provide science, technology, and health policy advice under a congressional charter. A committee roster follows.
About Anna Maria Siega-Riz:
Siega-Riz’s research and service in the area of maternal and child health is widely respected.
In 2007, she received the March of Dimes’ Agnes Higgins Award, which recognizes distinguished achievement in research, education or clinical services in the field of maternal-fetal nutrition. Her invited lecture at the national event was titled, “Maternal Obesity: The Number One Problem Facing Prenatal Care Providers in the New Millennium.”
Her work has been quoted or referenced in Newsweek, The New York Times, and FitPregnancy and Parenting magazines.
She is co-principal investigator, along with others at UNC-Chapel Hill, including Andy Olshan, PhD, and Barbara Entwisle, PhD, on a grant funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and coordinated by the N.C. Center for Birth Defects Research and Prevention, which contributes data to the National Birth Defects Prevention Study.
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For more information, see http://national-academies.org.
Copies of Weight Gain During Pregnancy: Reexamining the Guidelines are available from the National Academies Press at 202-334-3313 or 1-800-624-6242, or online at www.nap.edu.
Additional information on the report is available at www.iom.edu/pregnancyweightgain.
A podcast of the public briefing held to release this report is available at http://national-academies.org/podcast.
* Member, Institute of Medicine