The Pattern and Timing of Weight Changes in Pregnancy Impact Child Growth and Weight Trajectories for Girls but not Boys
Widen, Elizabeth M.
Nichols, Amy R.
Hoepner, Lori A.
Kinsey, Eliza W.
University of Texas at Austin Population Research Center
Current obesity prevalence in the U.S. is 14% among preschool aged children, 18% among school aged children, 21% among adolescents, and 40% among adults. Pregnancy is a critical period that can shape later health and obesity risk for both the woman carrying the pregnancy and the eventual child. The Institute of Medicine recommends that researchers explore how the pattern of prenatal weight gain, rather than total prenatal weight gain, impacts children’s health outcomes. Responding to this call, PRC faculty scholar Beth Widen and colleagues designed a study to understand how patterns of weight changes over the course of pregnancy are linked to body composition and growth patterns of the children born of these pregnancies. They found that unlike boys, girls exposed to high prenatal weight changes are likely more vulnerable to excess body fat across childhood and into early adolescence. These findings will likely be included in future Institute of Medicine recommendations for healthy weight changes throughout pregnancy.