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Risks of Overweight and Underweight Before Pregnancy

>> Monday, November 21, 2016

Doing one's best to achieve an appropriate amount of weight gain in pregnancy is important for best health outcomes for baby and mother.  As it turns out, mom's weight before pregnancy is an important predictor of birth outcomes as well.

A recent review summarizes available data on this issue, looking at 60 studies involving over 1.3 million women.

They found that for women with overweight or obesity before pregnancy, compared to women with normal weight, the risks were as follows:

  • 45% higher risk of having a large for gestational age baby
  • 24% higher risk of having a small for gestational age baby
  • 29% higher risk of the newborn baby needing admission to intensive care after birth
  • 27% higher risk of stillbirth

For women with underweight before pregnancy: (again, compared to women with normal weight)
  • 30% higher risk of preterm birth
  • 67% higher risk of having a small for gestational age baby

These data remind us of the importance of managing weight as well as possible not only during pregnancy, but also before consideration of pregnancy.

Recommended weight gain during pregnancy is based on pre-pregnancy Body Mass Index, and can be calculated using Health Canada's handy Pregnancy Weight Gain Calculator.

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