Body Mass Index, Weight Gain, and Hypertensive Disorders in Pregnancy

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This study examines the interrelationship between gestational weight gain, pre-pregnancy body mass index (BMI), race/ethnicity, and their association with hypertensive disorders during pregnancy (HDP).


Data from the 2004–2011 national Pregnancy Risk Assessment Monitoring System (PRAMS) were analyzed. Women with singleton live births were included in the analysis (N = 270,131). Gestational weight gain was categorized reflecting the Institute of Medicine (IOM) weight gain recommendation (no gain/weight loss; ≤11, 12–14; 15–25; 26–35; ≥36 pounds). Pre-pregnancy BMI (underweight; normal; overweight; obese) and race/ethnicity (non-Hispanic (NH) White, NH-Black, Hispanic, and NH-other) were examined. Hypertensive disorders during pregnancy were dichotomized (HDP; no HDP). Data were stratified by BMI and race/ethnicity, and multiple logistic regression analysis was conducted to generate odds ratios and 95% confidence intervals (CIs).


Compared to normal and overweight women who gained the IOM recommended weight, higher odds of HDP was observed in those who gained ≥36 pounds regardless of their race/ethnicity. Among obese NH-White (odds ratio (OR) = 1.29, 95% CI = 1.11, 1.50) and Hispanic women (OR = 1.64, 95% CI = 1.05, 2.54), the odds of HDP was higher among those who gained 25–35 pounds and those who gained ≥36 pounds (OR = 1.59, 95% CI = 1.37, 1.85) and (OR = 2.20, 95% CI = 1.41, 3.44), respectively. However, for NH-Black obese women, higher odds of HDP was observed among those who gained ≥36 pounds (OR = 1.34, 95% CI = 1.04, 1.73).


Although there are some ethnic/racial variations, pregnant women who exceeded gestational weight gain recommendations are at increased risk of HDP. Health care providers should consider the interrelationship between pre-pregnancy gestational weight gain (GWG) and BMI when counseling patients regarding HDP.

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