Thursday, April 05, 2007
Modern medicine is way too obsessed with weight:
Women who gain excessive or even the recommended amount of weight during pregnancy are more likely to have an overweight child than their counterparts who don't gain enough weight, new research shows.
In light of the obesity epidemic that is sweeping many developed countries, the new findings suggest that guidelines dictating appropriate weight gain during pregnancy may need to be revised, according to a report in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology.
The study, according to the press release which is quoted in every newspaper article covering the subject:
Oken and her colleagues conducted a study of 1,044 mother-child pairs. The women were divided into three groups based on whether their pregnancy weight gain was below, within, or above the values set by the Institute of Medicine.
According to the guidelines, the amount of weight that should be gained, based on the mother's BMI before pregnancy, ranged from 25.35 to 35.27 lb. for women with a normal BMI, 27.56 to 39.68 lb. for a low BMI, 15.43 to 25.35 lb. for an overweight BMI, and at least 13.23 lb. for women with an obese Excessive weight gain was noted in 51 percent of subjects, adequate weight gain in 35 percent, and inadequate weight gain in 14 percent. Mothers with excessive or adequate weight gain were roughly four times more likely than those with inadequate weight gain to have a child who was overweight by age 3.
The abstract is very vague about just what "roughly four times more likely" means. There is also no mention - or measurement - of the risks those fat babies face, other than an assumption that they will grow up to be fat kids and fat adults and get diabetes and heart disease and be generally unsightly.
On the other hand, we do know that mothers who are too skinny during pregnancy have higher rates of low birth weight babies, and that is very bad for babies.
UPDATE: Managed to get a copy of the full paper this morning at the hospital. The data do support the contention that moms who gain the most weight have heavier babies. Among babies born at weights greater than the 90th percentile, 66% had moms who gained excessive amounts of weight by the Institute of Medicine standards. But so did 50% of the appropriate weight babies.
Among those babies who weighed more than the 95th percentile at three years of age, 61% had mothers who had excessive weight gain. But, again, the normal weight kids also had higher rates of moms with excessive weight gain than appropriate weight gain. (54% and 52% for kids in the 85th-94th percentile and 50th-84th percentile respectively.)
What's more, the mean weight gain wasn't dramatically different in the different groups. For underweight babies, the mean maternal weight gain was 14 kilograms. For fat babies it was 17 killograms. (About a 6-7 pound weight difference.) At age 3 the skinniest kids had moms whose mean weight gain during pregnancy was 15 kilograms, while the fattest kids had moms whose mean weight gain was 16kg, only a 3 pound difference. Hard to believe that such a small difference can be that significant.
posted by Sydney on 4/05/2007 09:30:00 PM 2 comments
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