By: Brenda Neugent
Moms who fail to lose the pounds they gain during pregnancy – or those who gain a few extra pounds in the year that follows birth – may boost the risk of developing both type 2 diabetes and heart disease later on, according to the results of a new study.
Researchers at Toronto’s Mount Sinai Hospital found that weight patterns after pregnancy played a big role in overall health.
As part of the study, Dr. Ravi Retnakaran and his team followed 305 women throughout pregnancy and for the year after giving birth. About 75 percent of women lost some of their baby weight and maintained healthy blood pressure and cholesterol levels. The other 25 percent not only failed to lose weight, but they continued to gain, which raised the markers that are risk factors for diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
“This finding helps us advise women about the importance of losing their excess pregnancy weight in the first year after delivery,” Retnakaran said. “With these results, we can say that failure to lose weight between 3 and 12 months postpartum will cause blood pressure, cholesterol and insulin action in the body to move in an unhealthy direction.”
The risks are not only limited to mothers, according to another study that looked at the so-called “Goldilocks effect” of weight gain during pregnancy.
Children born to mothers who gained more weight than recommended were 80 percent more likely to become obese, while women who gained too little weight raised their child’s risk of obesity by 63 percent.
Mothers who gained the recommended amount of weight, however, gave birth to children who were just 14 percent likely to become obese.
Since 60 percent of women gain too much weight during pregnancy, the results are significant, researchers said.
“We need to find ways to help women achieve appropriate weight gain – for her health and the child’s – during pregnancy,” said study author Monique Hedderson of Kaiser Permanente in Northern California. “There needs to be more intervention to help women achieve