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Health Team

Eating for two can be too much for pregnant women

Posted November 14, 2008 5:59 p.m. EST
Updated November 14, 2008 6:33 p.m. EST

— Doctors often tell pregnant women to minimize weight gain. A new study shows that gaining too much weight during pregnancy can be harmful to the mother and lead to long-term complications for the baby.

Nicole Davis gained two pounds in the first four months of her pregnancy.

"I love my junk food. I love my chocolate. I just have to remember, I'm taking care of someone else right now," she said.

A study by Kaiser Permanente shows that gaining more than 40 pounds during pregnancy almost doubles the chances of having a baby who weighs nine pounds or more at birth.

"Excessive weight gain during pregnancy can then program that child for higher risks of childhood obesity," Dr. Jennifer Leighdon Wu explains.

Doctors recommend that expectant mothers take in an additional 300-500 calories a day – the equivalent of two yogurts.

"They should also continue a regular exercise routine – at least 20 minutes, three times a week, of moderate exercise," Wu said.

Giving birth to a heavy baby can lead to serious complications for both mom and infant, Wu added. Carrying a bigger baby increases the chances of birth trauma, fractures to the baby's clavicles during childbirth and the need for a Cesarean section.