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The relative importance of gestational gain and maternal characteristics associated with the risk of becoming overweight after pregnancy

OBJECTIVES: To assess the relationships between gestational gain, race/ethnicity, reproductive history, age, education and the risk of becoming overweight after pregnancy. STUDY DESIGN: Prospective cohort study of adult women from four race/ethnicity groups who had two consecutive births between 1980 and 1990 at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF). MEASUREMENTS: Height and pregravid weights for each pregnancy were self-reported. Women were classified as overweight or not overweight according to the Institute of Medicine (IOM) criteria for pregnancy. Gestational gain was defined as the difference between the pregravid weight and the last weight before delivery of the first study pregnancy. SUBJECTS: 1300 healthy women aged 18-41 y who had a singleton, full-term, live birth (index or first study pregnancy) followed by a second birth. Self-reported pregravid weights and heights were used to calculate body mass index (BMI). Women with a pregravid BMI below 26.0 kg/m2 before the index pregnancy were classified as not overweight (n = 1128). Overweight status following the index pregnancy was based on pregravid BMI for the second pregnancy. RESULTS: Seventy-two women (6.4%) became overweight following the index pregnancy. Statistically significant independent predictors of the risk of becoming overweight included: maternal age 24-30 vs above 30 y, high gestational gain, short interval from menarche to first ever birth ( < 8 y), and young age at menarche ( < 12 y). The risk of becoming overweight was increased 2.5-3 times for each of these risk factors. Whites were 4.5 times more likely to become overweight than Asians, but blacks and Hispanics did not appear to differ from whites. Parity, time interval, smoking habit, education, marital status and other factors were not associated with the risk of becoming overweight. CONCLUSIONS: These findings suggest that young age at menarche, maternal age and short time from menarche to first ever birth may be as important as high gestational weight gain in determining the risk of becoming overweight after pregnancy.

Authors: Gunderson EP; Abrams B; Selvin S

Int J Obes Relat Metab Disord. 2000 Dec;24(12):1660-8.

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