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New Guidelines to Fight Obesity in Pregnancy

The Institute of Medicine recently issued new guidelines for the amount of weight a woman should gain during pregnancy, adding a new category for obese women. Since the mid-1990's, about half of women of childbearing age are overweight, according to the IOM report.

The new guidelines recommend that healthy women at a normal weight for their height (BMI of 18.5 to 24.9) should gain 25 to 35 pounds during pregnancy; underweight women (BMI less than 18.5) should gain 28 to 40 pounds; and overweight women (BMI 25 to 299) should gain 15 to 25 pounds The new category for obese women (BMI greater than 30) limits their gain to 11 to 20 pounds. BMI is based on a person's weight and height; for example, a f-foot-6-inch woman weighing between 115 and 154 pounds has a normal BMI. Individuals can determine their BMI using the online calculator at

Women who are overweight or obese during pregnancy are at greater risk for several complications, including:

Infertility /Labor and delivery complications, including c-sections / Hypertension, gestational diabetes, pre eclampsia / Delivery of large-for-gestational-age infants.

Babies born to overweight and obese mothers may face their own challenges, including:

Being born prematurely / Fetal and neonatal death / Having certain birth defects, especially neural tube defects / Needing special care in a neonatal intensive care unit / Being obese in childhood.

The new IOM report also added rates for the amount of weight a woman should gain in the second and third trimesters or pregnancy - a pound a week for underweight and normal weight women and about a half-pound for overweight and obese women.

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