Gestational weight gain differs according to pre-pregnancy body mass index and is related to the risks of adverse maternal and child health outcomes. Gestational weight gain charts for women in different pre-pregnancy body mass index groups enable identification of women and offspring at risk for adverse health outcomes. We aimed to construct gestational weight gain reference charts for underweight, normal weight, overweight, and grades 1, 2 and 3 obese women and to compare these charts with those obtained in women with uncomplicated term pregnancies.
We used individual participant data from 218,216 pregnant women participating in 33 cohorts from Europe, North America, and Oceania. Of these women, 9065 (4.2%), 148,697 (68.1%), 42,678 (19.6%), 13,084 (6.0%), 3597 (1.6%), and 1095 (0.5%) were underweight, normal weight, overweight, and grades 1, 2, and 3 obese women, respectively. A total of 138, 517 women from 26 cohorts had pregnancies with no hypertensive or diabetic disorders and with term deliveries of appropriate for gestational age at birth infants. Gestational weight gain charts for underweight, normal weight, overweight, and grade 1, 2, and 3 obese women were derived by the Box-Cox t method using the generalized additive model for location, scale, and shape.
We observed that gestational weight gain strongly differed per maternal pre-pregnancy body mass index group. The median (interquartile range) gestational weight gain at 40 weeks was 14.2 kg (11.4-17.4) for underweight women, 14.5 kg (11.5-17.7) for normal weight women, 13.9 kg (10.1-17.9) for overweight women, and 11.2 kg (7.0-15.7), 8.7 kg (4.3-13.4) and 6.3 kg (1.9-11.1) for grades 1, 2, and 3 obese women, respectively. The rate of weight gain was lower in the first half than in the second half of pregnancy. No differences in the patterns of weight gain were observed between cohorts or countries. Similar weight gain patterns were observed in mothers without pregnancy complications.
Gestational weight gain patterns are strongly related to pre-pregnancy body mass index. The derived charts can be used to assess gestational weight gain in etiological research and as a monitoring tool for weight gain during pregnancy in clinical practice.