Weight gain between pregnancies is linked to pregnancy complications and adverse neonatal outcomes in second born children, according to a study published by Martina Persson and colleagues from the Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden, in this week's PLOS Medicine.
The researchers examined data from the nationwide Swedish Medical Birth Register, including 532,858 second-born infants born at term (greater than or equal to 37 weeks gestation) to mothers having their first and second infants between 1992 and 2012. Compared with mothers with stable weight (-1 to <1 kg/m2 change in BMI between pregnancies), they observed that infants born to mothers who gained 4 kg/m2 or more between pregnancies had a 33% to 78% increased risk of low Apgar score (a measure of newborn health), neonatal seizures, and meconium aspiration.
While the researchers could not investigate the potential impact of obstetric and neonatal interventions and did not have information when the weight gain occurred or on gestational weight gain, the findings provided suggest that preventing weight gain between pregnancies could reduce the risk of birth asphyxia and improve infant health.
The authors say: "Encouraging women to normalize BMI before pregnancy and to avoid weight gain between pregnancies is likely to be an important measure to improve infant health."
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Citation: Persson M, Johansson S, Cnattingius S (2016) Inter-pregnancy Weight Change and Risks of Severe Birth-Asphyxia-Related Outcomes in Singleton Infants Born at Term: A Nationwide Swedish Cohort Study. PLoS Med 13(6): e1002033. doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1002033
Funding: This study was supported by the Swedish Research Council for Health, Working Life and Welfare (grant number 2014-0073) and an unrestricted grant from Karolinska Institutet (Distinguished Professor Award to SC). MP was supported by Stockholm City Council (clinical post-doc position). No funding bodies had any role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish or preparation of the manuscript.
Competing Interests: The authors have declared that no competing interests exist.