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Adolescent Gestational Weight Gain: Does It Contribute to Obesity?

Groth, Susan PhD, RNC, NP

MCN: The American Journal of Maternal/Child Nursing: March-April 2006 - Volume 31 - Issue 2 - p 101-105
Feature articles

Does gestational weight gain have an impact on the future weight pattern of adolescent mothers? Pregnant adolescents gain weight with childbearing, and weight retention following pregnancy potentially contributes to long-term overweight and obesity, but the literature to date has focused on the effect of gestational weight on the neonate and not on the mother. In 1990, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) released recommendations for weight gain during pregnancy. According to these recommendations, young adolescents (≤16 years old) should gain weight at the upper end of the recommendations, while older adolescents (>16–19 years old) should gain weight similarly to adult women. The purpose of this article is to provide a current understanding of adolescent gestational weight gain and its impact on both maternal and neonatal outcomes. If adolescent weight gain during pregnancy leads to overweight and obesity without a clear benefit for the neonate, there may be resultant health implications for maternal health.

This literature review demonstrates that there are no clear answers to the question of the influence of gestational weight gain on future maternal health. It is certain, however, that helping adolescents achieve good prepregnant nutritional status is an important first step in health promotion.

Everyone is talking about the obesity epidemic these days. What is the effect of gestational weight gain on future obesity for teens? Is there a relationship?

Susan Groth is an Assistant Professor, University of Rochester, School of Nursing. She can be reached via e-mail at

The author does not have any areas of conflict of interest such as commercial associations or financial arrangements with any company.

© 2006 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.