Picture of pregnant woman
October 18, 2017

Associate Professors Edmond Shenassa and Marian Moser Jones recently published an article in the Obstetrical and Gynecological Survey reviewing the clinical research and recommendations on gestational weight gain (GWG) in the United States and United Kingdom from the 19th century on. While obstetricians in the late 1800s gave global recommendations on GWG, current research focuses more on individual recommendations and the many factors at play, including nutrition and epigenetic influences.

“During the past century, recommendations for gestational weight gain have reversed from emphasizing dieting during pregnancy to the importance of proper nutrition during pregnancy,” according to the study. “Obstetricians' focus has also evolved from being exclusively on the newborn to include the health of mothers. Contemporary obstetric practice seeks to achieve a balance between mothers' and infants' risk of adverse outcomes.” The researchers found that changes in recommendations over the past century reflect developments in the allied fields, such as epidemiology and nutrition, as much as progress in obstetrics and gynecology.

The editors of Obstetrical and Gynecological Survey have included this paper in a series of education activities to earn continuing education credit from the American Medical Association.

Dr. Shenassa had this to say about the article: “This paper incorporates clinical, historical and epidemiologic perspectives. We were motivated to write a comprehensive account of historical and scientific developments that inform our understanding of the importance of gestational weight gain. We set out to provide a context for current clinical practice by showing how clinical decisions often reflect only a moment in time with its attendant limitations; only collaborative work can reveal the nature of these limitations.”

Article Link: 
Gestational Weight Gain: Historical Evolution of a Contested Health Outcome
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Edmond Shenassa, Marian Moser Jones