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C-Sections More Likely for Women Who Gain Excessive Weight During Pregnancy, Study Says

October 2004

Women who gain more than 25 to 35 pounds during pregnancy are 40% more likely to undergo a caesarean-section delivery than women who gain no more than 25 to 35 pounds, regardless of the birthweight of the infant, according to a study published in the October issue of the journal Obstetrics and Gynecology says, Reuters Health reports. The Institute of Medicine recommends that women of normal pre-pregnancy weight gain between 25 and 35 pounds during pregnancy and that women who are overweight before pregnancy gain no more than 25 pounds. Dr. Naomi Stotland of the University of California-San Francisco gathered information on 9,800 women who had given birth for the first time. Of the women studied, 48% gained more weight during pregnancy than the IOM recommendation, while 17% gained less weight. Overall, women who gained more weight than IOM recommendations were more likely to deliver by c-section. However, excess weight gain raised the odds of c-section only among women with normal pre-pregnancy weights, according to the study, Reuters Health. Women who were overweight before pregnancy and then gained more than 25 pounds during pregnancy were no more likely to deliver by c-section than women who gained the recommended amount of weight, according to the study. In addition, women who were overweight before pregnancy who gained less than 25 pounds had a lower risk of c-section delivery, compared with women who gained the recommended amount of weight, although this finding was not statistically significant. The researchers concluded that 64,000 of the 288,000 c-sections performed each year on U.S. women giving birth for the first time could be avoided if all women gained no more than 25 to 35 pounds during pregnancy. However, more research is needed to determine the ideal weight gain during pregnancy, according to the researchers (Norton, Reuters Health, 10/6).


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