Interventions to reduce gestational weight gain: A systematic review

Open Access
McLaughlin, Kaela Marie
Area of Honors:
Bachelor of Science
Document Type:
Thesis Supervisors:
  • Kesha Baptiste Roberts, Thesis Supervisor
  • Donna Marie Fick, Honors Advisor
  • gestational weight gain
  • pregnancy
  • weight gain
  • diet
  • exercise
Background. The Institute of Medicine publishes gestational weight gain guidelines for women to follow during pregnancy. However, many women gain weight in excess of the guidelines. Gaining weight above these guidelines has shown to put women at a greater risk for numerous pregnancy complications, including gestational hypertension, gestation diabetes mellitus, and delivering macrosomic infants. These women are also at higher risk for becoming overweight or obese after their childbearing years due to retained postpartum weight. The offspring of mothers who gain excess gestational weight are also at risk of being overweight later in life. Purpose. This literature review identified intervention programs to limit gestational weight gain during pregnancy and evaluated whether they were effective in assisting women to reduce their gestational weight gain. Methods. The Pubmed and CINAHL databases were searched for articles published from 2000 through 2011. Additional articles were identified through a hand search of the reference sections of the articles identified in the original database search. Eighteen intervention studies were included in this review. Results. The results of the intervention studies varied significantly. Some interventions had no effect on gestational weight gain, while in others women receiving the intervention gained less weight when compared to a control group. Discussion. Additional studies should be conducted of similar design to those that have shown to be successful in helping women to gain appropriate weight during pregnancy. Pre-conception counseling should be advocated for all women of childbearing age, and especially overweight and obese women wishing to conceive. Lifestyle changes should be recommended prior to pregnancy.