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Study Finds Pregnant Women Should Gain Up to 35 Pounds

July 24, 1986|Associated Press

WASHINGTON — Pregnant women who are overly concerned about controlling their weight may risk their unborn child, a government study said Wednesday.

The study, released by the National Center for Health Statistics, said women who gain less than 16 pounds during pregnancy have about 2.8 times the rate of fetal deaths as women who gain between 26 and 35 pounds.

The study, based on a sample of about 16,000 pregnancies, suggested current guidelines for weight gain may be too conservative.

Most doctors believe the proper weight gain during pregnancy should be between 22 and 27 pounds, the center said. But the new figures show better outcomes with even higher weight gains, up to 35 pounds.

High Risk of Fetal Death

The study said women who gained little weight during pregnancy had significantly higher rates of fetal death--stillbirths and fetal loss late in pregnancy, after about the 28th week.

And children born alive to women with little weight gain tended to be small babies, who have more health problems and higher infant mortality rates, the study said.

The figures bolster current advice that even women who are overweight at conception should not attempt to lose weight, the study said.

Says Risk Declines

"Although fetal death ratios are higher for mothers with a high pre-pregnancy weight, the risk of a fetal death outcome declines as weight gain increases for these women, as well as for women with lower pre-pregnancy weight," it said.

Despite the value of the added weight, the study said a substantial proportion of pregnant women do not gain enough.

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