Gestational weight gain: influences on the long-term health of the child

Curr Opin Clin Nutr Metab Care. 2012 May;15(3):252-7. doi: 10.1097/MCO.0b013e3283527cf2.


Purpose of review: To address the recent evidence which suggests that inappropriate gestational weight gain (GWG) may have consequences that extend to the longer term health of the child.

Recent findings: Inadequate GWG is associated with low birthweight, and excessive GWG to delivery of large for gestational age infants . Recent studies report relationships between excessive GWG and neonatal adiposity, and with childhood and adult obesity. These appear to be independent of confounders such as socioeconomic status and a shared family environment, or hereditary traits for obesity, supporting the 'developmental origins of disease' hypothesis.

Summary: Because of periods of developmental plasticity, the early life metabolic environment may contribute to the risk of metabolic and cardiovascular disease in later life. The mechanisms which explain the relationships between maternal GWG and later life obesity remain unknown. Large, well conducted, intervention randomized controlled trials in pregnant women are required to address relationships between GWG and offspring risk of disease, including characterization of potential mediators. These should lead to more targeted and effective intervention strategies.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adiposity*
  • Body Mass Index
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / physiopathology
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / prevention & control
  • Child
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Obesity / physiopathology*
  • Obesity / prevention & control
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Complications / physiopathology*
  • Pregnancy Complications / prevention & control
  • Prenatal Exposure Delayed Effects / physiopathology*
  • Risk Factors
  • Weight Gain*