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Member Research & Reports

Member Research & Reports

Maryland Researchers Explore the History of Gestational Weight Gain in New Article

University of Maryland School of Public Health associate professors Dr. Edmond Shenassa and Dr. Marian Moser Jones recently published an article in the Obstetrical and Gynecological Survey reviewing the clinical research and recommendations on gestational weight gain in the United States and United Kingdom from the 19th century on. While obstetricians in the late 1800s gave global recommendations on gestational weight gain, 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.

“This paper incorporates clinical, historical and epidemiologic perspectives,” Dr. Shenassa said. “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.”

Drs. Shenassa and Moser Jones are both faculty members in the SPH department of family science.

Gestational Weight Gain: Historical Evolution of a Contested Health Outcome” was published in Obstetrical and Gynecological Survey.