“Gaining either too little or too much weight in pregnancy may permanently affect mechanisms that manage energy balance and metabolism in the offspring, such as appetite control and energy expenditure,” informed study’s lead author Sneha Sridhar from California-based Kaiser Permanente.

The stronger association we found among normal weight women who gained too much or too little weight during pregnancy suggests that perhaps weight gain in pregnancy may have an impact on the child that is independent of genetic factors, added senior researcher Monique M Hedderson.

Researchers reviewed the health records of 4,145 racially diverse female members of Kaiser Permanente in northern California who had completed a health survey between 2007 and 2009 and subsequently had a baby.

The analysis of medical records of children between ages two and five years old and found that among all women who gained more than the recommended weight during pregnancy, 20.4 percent of their children were overweight or obese.

This figure was 19.5 percent in women who gained less than recommended weight and 14.5 percent in women who gained weight within the guidelines.

Women with a normal Body Mass Index (BMI) measurement before pregnancy who gained less than the recommended amount were 63 percent more likely to have a child who became overweight or obese.

Women with a normal BMI before pregnancy with weight gain above recommendations were 80 percent more likely to have an overweight or obese child.

"This could potentially have long-term effects on the child's subsequent growth and weight," Sridhar added.

The study was published in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology.


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