Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Health & Pregnancy

Font Size

Weight Rises for Pregnant Women and Newborns

Study Shows BMI Is Increasing for Pregnant Women and Their Babies
By Katrina Woznicki
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Laura J. Martin, MD

May 3, 2010 -- More babies are being born with more body fat at the same time that body mass index (BMI) -- a measurement calculated from height and weight measurements -- has increased among pregnant women, according to research presented at a national pediatrics conference.

There are few studies on newborn body fat composition and how this measurement influences the risk of childhood obesity, a condition that is prevalent in the U.S. Researchers question whether the path to obesity may begin as early as in the womb.

A research team from Children's Mercy Hospitals and Clinics in Kansas City, Mo., analyzed data from 1990 to 2005 and looked at more than 74,000 births. They found that the ponderal index, a measurement of newborn body fat composition, correlated with the mother's BMI and also increased over the study period. Babies with a higher ponderal index tend to have more body fat.

The findings were presented at the Pediatric Academic Societies annual meeting in Vancouver, British Columbia.

Mom's Weight Affects Baby's Weight

Study researcher Felix Okah, MD, MS, professor of pediatrics and director of the Neonatal-Perinatal Medicine Fellowship Program at Children's Mercy Hospitals and Clinics, and colleagues looked at the mothers' prenatal care, their BMI, and overall weight gain.

They found that while mothers from all racial and ethnic groups gained weight over the 15-year study period, there were some racial and ethnic differences between the groups:

  • The average maternal BMI was 24 for whites; 24.9 for African-Americans; and 25.4 for Hispanics.
  • Among these groups of mothers, weight gain increased 47%, 51%, and 54%, respectively.
  • Hispanic newborns were more likely to have had a higher ponderal index than other infants.

Excess weight and obesity are risk factors for several chronic diseases, including diabetes and heart disease. Extra pounds can also increase the risk for pregnancy complications, including gestational diabetes.

A woman's pre-pregnancy BMI influences fetal growth and newborn body weight. Not surprisingly, mothers with higher BMIs are more likely to give birth to larger babies.

For adults, a BMI between 25 and 29 is considered overweight; a BMI of 30 or higher is considered obese, according to national guidelines. Currently in the U.S., nearly two-thirds of all adults age 20 and older are either overweight or obese. Among children who are overweight in the U.S.:

  • 11% are ages 2 to 5
  • 15% are ages 6 to 11
  • 18% are ages 12 to 19

Pregnancy Week-By-Week Newsletter

Delivered right to your inbox, get pictures and facts on
what to expect each week of your pregnancy.

Today on WebMD

hand circling date on calendar
Track your most fertile days.
woman looking at ultrasound
Week-by-week pregnancy guide.
Pretty pregnant woman timing contaction pains
The signs to watch out for.
pregnant woman in hospital
Are there ways to do it naturally?
slideshow fetal development
pregnancy first trimester warning signs
What Causes Bipolar
Woman trying on dress in store
pregnant woman
Close up on eyes of baby breastfeeding
healthtool pregnancy calendar
eddleman prepare your body pregnancy