Pregnancy-related weight gain and retention: implications of the 1990 Institute of Medicine guidelines

Am J Public Health. 1993 Aug;83(8):1100-3. doi: 10.2105/ajph.83.8.1100.


Objectives: Guidelines from the Institute of Medicine's 1990 report call for weight gains during pregnancy that are higher than those previously recommended. This study examines the potential implications of compliance with these guidelines for postpartum weight retention.

Methods: Weight retention 10 to 18 months following delivery was examined for selected women who had live births in the 1988 National Maternal and Infant Health Survey. Women's actual weight gains during pregnancy were retrospectively classified according to the Institute of Medicine's guidelines.

Results: Weight retention following delivery increased as weight gain increased, and Black women retained more weight than White women with comparable weight gain. The median retained weight for White women who gained the amount now being recommended was 1.6 lb whereas that for Black women was 7.2 lb.

Conclusions: If pregnant White women gain weight according to the institute's guidelines, they need not be concerned about retaining a substantial amount of weight postpartum. Our findings suggest, however, that Black women are in need of advice about how to lose weight following delivery.

MeSH terms

  • Female
  • Humans
  • Maternal Age
  • Practice Guidelines as Topic
  • Pregnancy*
  • Racial Groups
  • Weight Gain*
  • Weight Loss