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Journal of Perinatal Medicine

Official Journal of the World Association of Perinatal Medicine

Editor-in-Chief: Dudenhausen, MD, FRCOG, Joachim W.

Ed. by Bancalari, Eduardo / Chappelle, Joseph / Chervenak, Frank A. / D'Addario , Vincenzo / Genc, Mehmet R. / Greenough, Anne / Grunebaum, Amos / Konje, Justin C. / Kurjak M.D., Asim / Romero, Roberto / Zalud, MD PhD, Ivica

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Volume 42, Issue 4


The relationship between gestational weight gain and fetal growth: time to take stock?

Amy C. O’Higgins
  • Corresponding author
  • UCD Centre for Human Reproduction, Coombe Women and Infants University Hospital, Dublin, Ireland
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/ Anne Doolan
  • UCD Centre for Human Reproduction, Coombe Women and Infants University Hospital, Dublin, Ireland
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  • De Gruyter OnlineGoogle Scholar
/ Laura Mullaney
  • UCD Centre for Human Reproduction, Coombe Women and Infants University Hospital, Dublin, Ireland
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  • De Gruyter OnlineGoogle Scholar
/ Niamh Daly
  • UCD Centre for Human Reproduction, Coombe Women and Infants University Hospital, Dublin, Ireland
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  • De Gruyter OnlineGoogle Scholar
/ Daniel McCartney
  • UCD Centre for Human Reproduction, Coombe Women and Infants University Hospital, Dublin, Ireland
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/ Michael J. Turner
  • UCD Centre for Human Reproduction, Coombe Women and Infants University Hospital, Dublin, Ireland
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  • De Gruyter OnlineGoogle Scholar
Published Online: 2013-11-21 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/jpm-2013-0209


The aim of this article is to review the current evidence on gestational weight gain (GWG). Maternal obesity has emerged as one of the great challenges in modern obstetrics as it is becoming increasingly common and is associated with increased maternal and fetal complications. There has been an upsurge of interest in GWG with an emphasis on the relationship between excessive GWG and increased fetal growth. Recent recommendations from the Institute of Medicine in the USA have revised downwards the weight gain recommendations in pregnancy for obese mothers. We believe that it is time to take stock again about the advice that pregnant women are given about GWG and their lifestyle before, during, and after pregnancy. The epidemiological links between excessive GWG and aberrant fetal growth are weak, particularly in obese women. There is little evidence that intervention studies decrease excessive GWG or improve intrauterine fetal growth. Indeed, there is a potential risk that inappropriate interventions during the course of pregnancy may lead to fetal malnutrition that may have adverse clinical consequences, both in the short- and long-term. It may be more appropriate to shift the focus of attention from monitoring maternal weight to increasing physical activity levels and improving nutritional intakes.

Keywords: Fetal growth; gestational weight gain; maternal obesity


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About the article

Corresponding author: Amy C. O’Higgins, UCD Centre for Human Reproduction, Coombe Women and Infants University Hospital, Dublin 8, Ireland, Tel.: +353-1-4085760, Fax: +353-1-4085786, E-mail:

Received: 2013-08-08

Accepted: 2013-10-14

Published Online: 2013-11-21

Published in Print: 2014-07-01

Citation Information: Journal of Perinatal Medicine, Volume 42, Issue 4, Pages 409–415, ISSN (Online) 1619-3997, ISSN (Print) 0300-5577, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/jpm-2013-0209.

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