Pregnancy weight gain increases during the COVID-19 pandemic

September 15, 2022

2 minutes to read


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Compared to previous trends in the COVID-19 pandemic, pregnancy weight gain increased during the pandemic, as did the risk of pregnancy weight gain, according to a research letter published in JAMA Network is open.

“These findings shed light on the association of the pandemic with adverse pregnancy outcomes and highlight the need for treatment.” [gestational weight gain (GWG)]particularly among at-risk populations, to reduce the public health impact,” Wangnan Kao, Ph.D., An assistant professor in the Department of Social Medicine and Health Education at Peking University in Beijing and colleagues wrote.

Kao and colleagues used data from the CDC National Center for Health Statistics to identify individual births between January 1, 2018 and December 31, 2020. To assess the GWG in the epidemic period—which was defined from March 1 to December 31, 2020—the researchers tracked persistent trends in the GWG over the study period.

They also analyzed differences in trends in excessive GWG, which they defined as gaining more weight than advised by the Institute of Medicine. BMI Recommendationsamong patients born during the pandemic and those born during a similar period in 2019, and among patients born in 2019 and 2018.

In total, Kao and colleagues analyzed 28,47592 births in 2020, 2475,822 births in 2019 and 2847,592 births in 2018. Between 2018 and 2020, there was a net increase of 0.06 kg in the GWG (95% CI, 0.04-0.07). The largest net increases in the GWG between 2018 and 2020 are observed in:

  • Patients under 25 years of age (net change, 0.22 kg; 95% CI, 0.19-0.26);
  • non-Hispanic black patients (net change, 0.12 kg; 95% CI, 0.07-0.16);
  • unmarried patients (net change, 0.16 kg; 95% CI, 0.13-0.19);
  • Patients with pre-pregnancy obesity (net change, 0.17 kg; 95% CI, 0.14-0.21); And the
  • Medicaid-insured patients (net change, 0.17 kg; 95% CI, 0.15-0.2).

Another comparison within the study population revealed that patients born during the pandemic period had a higher risk of developing excessive GWG (OR ratio = 1.01; 95% CI, 1.01–1.02). The groups of patients at greater risk of over-GWG were similar to those with the largest net over-GWG.

Cao and colleagues cautioned that “limitations of the study include self-reported height and weight before pregnancy and a lack of information about COVID-19 infection on birth certificates.” “Future studies identifying the period of maximum association of the COVID-19 epidemic with GWG may be useful.”