Impact of maternal body mass index and gestational weight gain on pregnancy complications: an individual participant data meta-analysis of European, North American and Australian cohorts

S. Santos, E. Voerman, P. Amiano, H. Barros, L. J. Beilin, A. Bergstrom, M-A Charles, L. Chatzi, C. Chevrier, G. P. Chrousos, E. Corpeleijn, O. Costa, N. Costet, S. Crozier, G. Devereux, M. Doyon, M. Eggesbo, M. P. Fantini, S. Farchi, F. ForastiereV. Georgiu, K. M. Godfrey, D. Gori, V. Grote, W. Hanke, I. Hertz-Picciotto, B. Heude, M-F Hivert, D. Hryhorczuk, R-C Huang, H. Inskip, A. M. Karvonen, L. C. Kenny, B. Koletzko, L. K. Kupers, H. Lagstrom, I. Lehmann, P. Magnus, R. Majewska, J. Makela, Y. Manios, F. M. McAuliffe, S. W. McDonald, J. Mehegan, E. Melen, M. Mommers, C. S. Morgen, G. Moschonis, D. Murray, C. Ni Chaoimh, E. A. Nohr, A-M Nybo Andersen, E. Oken, A. J. J. M. Oostvogels, A. Pac, E. Papadopoulou, J. Pekkanen, C. Pizzi, K. Polanska, D. Porta, L. Richiardi, S. L. Rifas-Shiman, N. Roeleveld, L. Ronfani, A. C. Santos, M. Standl, H. Stigum, C. Stoltenberg, E. Thiering, C. Thijs, M. Torrent, S. C. Tough, T. Trnovec, S. Turner, M. M. H. J. van Gelder, L. van Rossem, A. von Berg, M. Vrijheid, T. G. M. Vrijkotte, J. West, A. H. Wijga, J. Wright, O. Zvinchuk, T. I. A. Sorensen, D. A. Lawlor, R. Gaillard, V. W. V. Jaddoe*

*Corresponding author for this work

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Objective To assess the separate and combined associations of maternal pre-pregnancy body mass index (BMI) and gestational weight gain with the risks of pregnancy complications and their population impact. Design Individual participant data meta-analysis of 39 cohorts. Setting Europe, North America, and Oceania. Population 265 270 births. Methods Information on maternal pre-pregnancy BMI, gestational weight gain, and pregnancy complications was obtained. Multilevel binary logistic regression models were used. Main outcome measures Gestational hypertension, pre-eclampsia, gestational diabetes, preterm birth, small and large for gestational age at birth. Results Higher maternal pre-pregnancy BMI and gestational weight gain were, across their full ranges, associated with higher risks of gestational hypertensive disorders, gestational diabetes, and large for gestational age at birth. Preterm birth risk was higher at lower and higher BMI and weight gain. Compared with normal weight mothers with medium gestational weight gain, obese mothers with high gestational weight gain had the highest risk of any pregnancy complication (odds ratio 2.51, 95% CI 2.31- 2.74). We estimated that 23.9% of any pregnancy complication was attributable to maternal overweight/obesity and 31.6% of large for gestational age infants was attributable to excessive gestational weight gain. Conclusions Maternal pre-pregnancy BMI and gestational weight gain are, across their full ranges, associated with risks of pregnancy complications. Obese mothers with high gestational weight gain are at the highest risk of pregnancy complications. Promoting a healthy pre-pregnancy BMI and gestational weight gain may reduce the burden of pregnancy complications and ultimately the risk of maternal and neonatal morbidity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)984-995
Number of pages12
JournalBjog-an International Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2019


  • Birthweight
  • body mass index
  • pregnancy complications
  • preterm birth
  • weight gain
  • RISK

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