'Eating for two' when pregnant increases child's risk of obesity
Most mums-to-be are gaining too much weight in pregnancy as they indulge in "eating for two", a major study has revealed.
Nearly two-thirds of expectant mothers are piling on more pounds than recommended, fuelled by bigger portions and calorie-laden takeaways.
Eating more than one takeaway meal a week is linked to a 2kg weight gain - the equivalent of 4.4 lbs - the study carried out by researchers in University College Dublin and the National Maternity Hospital, Holles Street, revealed.
Holles Street obstetrician Fionnuala McAuliffe, who co-authored the study, said: "Excessive weight gain during pregnancy has significant implications for infant growth and obesity. This has potential implications for later adult health."
The number of pounds a woman should gain in pregnancy depends on her weight before pregnancy and her body mass index which should be recorded at her first ante-natal visit with advice given on nutrition and exercise. The study said pregnant women should watch their "overall food intake and takeaway consumption," the findings in the journal Public Health Nutrition reported.
Dr Emily Heery of the UCD School of Public Health said it appears to be the first study to find an independent association between consumption of takeaway meals and weight-gain during pregnancy.
The study of nearly 800 pregnant women found those who admit eating "a little more food" during their pregnancy are 60pc more likely to gain excessive weight during the nine months than their counterparts whose meals are "about the same".And women who report eating "a lot more food" during their pregnancy are twice as likely to exceed weight guidelines.
The researchers quizzed the women on physical activity, sleep and smoking and they also examined eating habits such as how often they had a takeaway, fried food and the number of snacks eaten per day.
The study said: "Foreign nationals living in Ireland are almost twice as likely as women born in Ireland to gain excessive weight over the course of their pregnancy."
With these findings, public health campaigns can be better designed to target the types of dietary changes required to bring weight gain during pregnancy into line with the recommended guidelines."
Women who were overweight or obese before they became pregnant were also shown to be the most likely to gain excessive weight during their pregnancy - matching findings from many other studies in this area.
Women who were slimmer before becoming pregnant, shorter than average and had no health insurance had lower weight gain in their pregnancy, the findings showed.
More than half the women who took part in the study were first time mums-to-be, 30pc were foreign nationals, and almost half had obtained at least a degree qualification. One in two had private health insurance. A separate study in May, which involved fewer foreign nationals, found 43pc of 631 pregnant women exceeded weight guidelines.