Gestational Weight Gain of Pregnant African American Adolescents Affects Body Mass Index 18 Years Later

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To determine if gestational weight gain (GWG) in adolescents is associated with long-term weight increases 12 years and 18 years after delivery of a first child and the differential effects of weight gain during pregnancy that is inadequate, the appropriate amount, and excessive based on the 2009 Institute of Medicine (IOM) recommendations.


Secondary data analysis of data from a randomized controlled trial.


Memphis, Tennessee.


Two hundred ninety-eight (298) primiparous low-income Black women who were adolescents at the time of their first pregnancies.


Linear regression was used to examine the relationship between body mass index (BMI) at 12 and 18 years postdelivery and GWG, parity, prepregnancy BMI, and smoking.


The total sample experienced a significant BMI increase from prepregnancy to 12 years and 18 years postdelivery. More than 50% of the women had a BMI increase greater than 10 kg/m2. By 18 years postdelivery, 85% were overweight or obese. Prepregnancy BMI and GWG had a positive significant effect on BMI 12 and 18 years later, whereas smoking had a negative effect. Those who gained excessive weight based on the IOM recommendations had a significantly higher BMI compared with those who gained appropriately.


Gestational weight gain had long-term effects on BMI in a minority adolescent population. Excessive pregnancy weight gain is likely to contribute to long-term weight retention, especially if adolescents are overweight or obese when they become pregnant with their first children. Intervention during pregnancy to limit GWG has the potential of limiting long-term negative health consequences that result from overweight and obesity in minority women.

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