Pregnant? Study Finds Obese Moms-to-Be Shouldn't Eat for Two

While she still will occasionally eat junk food, she's more aware than ever about limiting her portions, and is more focused on eating healthy foods, including lots of vegetables and fruit.

Some experts question the study's novel, counterintuitive approach. Some actually believe asking pregnant mothers to eat fewer calories could actually result in neurological harm to the baby.

Vesco and other Kaiser Permanente researchers involved in the study believed the mother's excess weight will prevent that.

"The thought for obese women is that they already have excess stores in their body that they can draw upon to help support the pregnancy," Vesco said.

But, according to the New York Times, one major concern is that women who are not gaining weight will burn fat for energy, producing ketones -- acidic compounds which could harm the fetus.

Dr. Naomi E. Stotland, an assistant professor of obstetrics, gynecology and reproductive sciences at the University of California, San Francisco, said studies in diabetic women and animals have found that babies that were born to women who had more ketones in their blood had lower I.Q. scores than other babies.

"What we don't know is: Are there effects on the babies' neurological development, or other adverse effects, from women not gaining weight?" Stotland told the New York Times. "Some of these women may be losing fat mass, and the question is: Is losing fat mass during pregnancy, when you're in a higher (body mass index) category, is that safe for the baby?"

Asked what she would say to any naysayers who believe women should gain weight during pregnancy, Martin she couldn't see how her attitude change wouldn't benefit her developing baby.

"I'm putting in good nutrients and building blocks," she said.

The study is funded by a $2.2 million grant from the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development.

Web-extra tips

Here are some of Kaiser Permanente's tips for how you can control weight gain when you're pregnant:

Every day, eat 8 to 12 fruit and vegetable servings, 3 servings of low-fat dairy, 5 to 9 ounces of protein-rich foods, 6 to 10 servings of whole grains, and 3 to 7 teaspoons of healthy fat (e.g., olive or canola oil, nuts).

Eat regular meals and small healthy snacks between meals.

Reduce fat to less than 30 percent of calories.

Reduce consumption of sweets and sweetened drinks.

Keep a food diary to check for nutritional adequacy and portion management.

Eat only 100 to 300 extra calories per day beyond what your calorie needs were before you became pregnant.

Exercise 30 minutes on most days. If you aren't exercising, talk to your provider about how to start an exercise program.

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