According to study results published in the Journal of Bone and Mineral Research, there is a slight association between maternal gestational weight gain and offspring bone mineralization in underweight/normal weight women, but not in overweight/obese women.

Researchers conducted this prospective cohort study to examine the relationship between gestational weight gain and bone mineralization in offspring at 7 years and to assess the modifying effects of early pregnancy body mass index. Data were analyzed from 2167 mother-child pairs who underwent whole-body dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry when the child was 7 years of age.

Of the total population of mothers, 35.8% were classified as overweight or obese. The overall mean maternal gestational weight gain was 13.2 ± 5.3 kg and was significantly greater in the underweight/normal weight group than in the overweight/obese group (14.1 vs 11.7 kg, respectively; P <.001). According to Institute of Medicine recommendations, 36.6% of all included mothers gained excessive weight during pregnancy and 23.7% gained too little weight.

In underweight/normal weight mothers, gestational weight gain was determined to be associated with slightly increased bone measures in offspring at 7 years (per 5 kg of gestational weight gain: bone mineral content, 0.07 standard deviation [SD]; areal bone mineral density, 0.10 SD; size-corrected bone mineral content, 0.11 SD; and height, 0.05 SD).

However, in mothers with excess weight in early pregnancy, the researchers discovered gestational weight gain had no significant effect on offspring bone health (per 5 kg of gestational weight gain: bone mineral content, 0.02 SD; areal bone mineral density, 0.02 SD; size-corrected bone mineral content, 0.01 SD; and height, 0.02 SD).

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In addition, no group demonstrated an advantageous effect of gaining weight above the Institute of Medicine recommendations.

Several limitations were noted for this study, including an inability to generalize findings to a broader population.

“Given the well-known adverse implications of excessive [gestational weight gain] for both mother and offspring on a wide range of outcomes, our findings support that women who are encouraged to follow [Institute of Medicine] weight gain recommendations during pregnancy should not expect a deleterious effect on the child’s skeletal health,” said the researchers.

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Reference

Monjardino T, Henriques A, Moreira C, et al. Gestational weight gain and offspring bone mass: Different associations in healthy weight versus overweight women [published online November 6, 2018]. J Bone Miner Res. doi:10.1002/jbmr.3587