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Studies examining postpartum retained weight referenced to prepregnant body mass index (BMI) may mask weight gained after 6 weeks postpartum, a potential unrecognized factor contributing to weight increases after pregnancy. Using data from a longitudinal study, we examined three weight patterns from 6 weeks to 6 months postpartum (>2.3 kg gain; >2.3 kg loss; and ±2.3 kg as stable weight) in 302 low-income women. Predictor variables included perinatal variables, health habits, and depression risk at 3 and 6 months postpartum. Mean weight changes were weight-gain group: 5.77 kg, standard deviation (SD) = 2.57; weight loss group: -4.79 kg, SD = 2.10; and stable group: 0.05 kg, SD = 1.24. The odds of gaining weight compared with stable weight increased with prepregnant overweight/obesity (adjusted odds ratio [aOR] = 3.22, 95% confidence interval [CI] = 1.74-6.00), and decreased with a first birth (aOR = 0.47, 95% CI = 0.24-0.93). The odds of losing weight increased with excessive gestational weight gain (aOR = 2.40, 95% CI = 1.10-5.21) and depression risk at 6 months (aOR = 2.57, 95% CI = 1.40-4.72), and decreased with prepregnant overweight/obesity (aOR = 0.49, 95% CI = 0.25-0.94). Health habits were not associated with weight gain or loss. Women with high BMIs may need added postpartum care to avoid gaining weight. Weight loss, although welcomed, may be secondary to depression risk. In both cases, low-cost, effective, and targeted care during the extended postpartum period could benefit women's health.
This article was published in the following journal.
Name: Journal of women's health (2002)
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