London: A new study has linked weight gain between pregnancies to the increased risk of stillbirth and infant death.
Mothers of healthy weight during their first pregnancy who gain even a moderate amount of weight (around 6 kg in a woman of average height) between their first and second pregnancies increase the risk of their baby dying in its first year of life, according to the research involving over 450000 Swedish women.
The findings also reveal an incremental increase in the risk of stillbirth with weight gain between pregnancies, irrespective of a woman’s weight during her first pregnancy.
Importantly, weight loss between pregnancies reduced the likelihood of neonatal death (within 28 days of birth) in babies of overweight women.
“The public health implications are profound,” says study author Sven Cnattingius from the Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm, Sweden. “Around a fifth of women in our study gained enough weight between pregnancies to increase their risk of stillbirth by 30-50 percent and their likelihood of giving birth to babies who die in infancy increased by 27-60 percent, if they had a healthy weight during their first pregnancy.”
According to study co-author Eduardo Villamor, the prevalence of overweight and obesity in pregnant women has reached epidemic levels. The findings highlight the importance of educating women about maintaining a healthy weight during pregnancy and reducing excess weight before becoming pregnant as a way to improve infant survival.
The study is published in The Lancet. (ANI)