Yesterday in JAMA, researchers analyzed data from the Pennington Biomedical Research Center and Woman's Hospital in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, to show that more women exceeded the recommended gestational weight gain (GWG) during the pandemic.
The hospital, the largest in Louisiana, attended to 23,000 deliveries from March 2019 to March 2022. Of women included in the study, 38% were Black, 51.2% were white, and the mean maternal age was 28.9 years.
After the pandemic began, pregnant women were 3% to 7% more likely to exceed the recommended GWG, seen in 45.4% of pregnant women in 2021, at the peak of the pandemic, and 44.0% later in the pandemic. To compare, only 42.0% of women in 2019 exceeded weight-gain recommendations.
Women started pregnancy heavier later in pandemic
For women who delivered toward the end of the study period (March 13, 2021, to March 12, 2022) GWG mirrored prepandemic numbers, but women began pregnancy slightly heavier than before the pandemic. The average for starting weight was higher by 0.82 kilograms (roughly 2 pounds) compared to prepandemic weight.
"The pandemic had a wide-reaching impact, beyond the spread of the virus itself, and the resulting increase in gestational weight gain may present further indirect impacts of the virus into the future for women and babies," said Leanne Redman, MD, the associate executive director for scientific education at Pennington Biomedical and Professor of Reproductive Endocrinology & Women's Health, in a Pennington press release.
The resulting increase in gestational weight gain may present further indirect impacts of the virus into the future for women and babies.
Excessive GWG, even by 5 pounds, can lead to an increased risk for cardiovascular disease in mothers and increase the likelihood of lifelong obesity in the child.