Distribution of pregnancy-related weight measures

Christy Woolcott, Linda Dodds, Jillian Ashley-Martin, Helena Piccinini-Vallis

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

5 Scopus citations


Objective: To describe the distribution of prepregnancy body mass index (BMI), gestational weight gain, and interpregnancy weight change. Design: Descriptive epidemiologic study using the Nova Scotia Atlee Perinatal Database. Setting: Nova Scotia, 2003 to 2013. Participants: Included were 63 355 pregnancies in women aged 20 years and older. Analyses of gestational weight gain were restricted to 54 289 singleton pregnancies. Analyses of interpregnancy weight change included 22 890 pairs of successive pregnancies. Main outcome measures: Prepregnancy BMI; gestational weight gain (the difference between delivery and prepregnancy weight adjusted for length of gestation); and interpregnancy weight change (the difference in prepregnancy weight between successive pregnancies). Results: The median (interquartile range [IQR]) prepregnancy BMI was 24.7 kg/m2 (21.7 to 29.4 kg/m2). Fewer than half (48.5%) of the pregnancies were in normal-weight women, 24.6% were in overweight women, and 23.0% were in obese women. The median (IQR) weight loss needed for women who entered pregnancy overweight or obese to be within the normal range was 13.2 kg (5.7 to 25.2 kg). The median (IQR) gestational weight gain was 14.9 kg (11.0 to 19.1 kg). Inadequate weight gain was observed in 15.8% of women and of these women, half were below the recommended amount by at least 2.2 kg. Excess gestational weight gain was observed in 57.9% of pregnancies, and among these, half were above the recommended amount by at least 4.8 kg. The median (IQR) interpregnancy weight change was 2.3 kg (-0.9 to 6.8 kg). Most (57.2%) women gained more than 1 kg between pregnancies and 24.6% lost 1 kg or more between pregnancies. Conclusion: In Nova Scotia, both inadequate and excess pregnancy-related weight are prevalent, although the latter is more common than the former. Strategies are needed to promote healthier weight in reproductive-aged women, optimize gestational weight gain, and support postpartum weight management.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)e400-e406
JournalCanadian Family Physician
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2016
Externally publishedYes

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    Woolcott, C., Dodds, L., Ashley-Martin, J., & Piccinini-Vallis, H. (2016). Distribution of pregnancy-related weight measures. Canadian Family Physician, 62(7), e400-e406.