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Excess Weight Gain or Loss During Pregnancy Tied to Child’s Heart Health

Women who put on excess pounds, or not enough weight, had children at risk for high blood pressure and other problems.

Gaining either too much or too little weight during pregnancy may be bad for your child’s heart health.

Researchers studied 905 mother-child pairs, dividing the mothers into groups that either matched or exceeded the recommended weight gain — 25 to 35 pounds for women with a body mass index between 18.5 and 24.9; 28 to 40 pounds for those with a B.M.I. under 18.5; and 15 to 25 pounds for a woman with a B.M.I. above 25. They then assessed their children’s heart health at age 7. The study is in Diabetologia.

After controlling for pre-pregnancy weight and many other risk factors, they found that compared with mothers who gained the recommended weight, children of women who gained excess pounds were at higher risk for high blood pressure, high B.M.I. and elevated fasting insulin readings, all risk factors for cardiovascular disease. Children whose mothers gained too little were at higher risk for slightly elevated blood pressure and elevated glucose readings.

“Women should know this before pregnancy,” said the senior author, Dr. Wing Hung Tam, a professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the Chinese University of Hong Kong. “Achieving normal weight before pregnancy will make it easier to control weight during pregnancy.”

Still, he said, “These effects are modest, and we don’t want to be obsessive about this. The best way to achieve normal pregnancy weight gain is to exercise regularly and eat a healthy diet.”

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