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Associations between reproduction and maternal body weight: examining the component parts of a full reproductive cycle

Journal article
Authors Anna Winkvist
KM Rasmussen
Lauren Lissner
Published in European Journal of Clinical Nutrition
Volume 56
Pages 114-127
Publication year 2002
Published at Institute of Community Medicine, Dept of Primary Health Care
Pages 114-127
Language en
Keywords pregnancy, lactation, reproduction, weight changes, adipose tissue
Subject categories Public health medicine research areas


Epidemiology, Department of Public Health and Clinical Medicine, Umeå University, Umeå, Sweden. OBJECTIVE: Many transitional societies currently face both extremes of nutritional status, undernutrition and overnutrition. Women of reproductive age are at high risk of these conditions. The purpose of this review is to consider evidence for relationships between reproduction and nutritional status in women from societies of varying economic development, using body weight or weight-for-height as indicators of maternal nutritional status. DESIGN: The conceptual framework guiding this review is that the duration of the reproductive cycle varies as a function of its component parts, which include (i) pregnancy, (ii) lactation, (iii) the non-pregnant/non-lactating (NP/NL) interval or, possibly, (iv) an overlap between lactation and next pregnancy. All component parts of the complete cycle vary in length and are associated with changes in nutritional status. A variety of factors ('proximal and distal determinants') influence the duration of the component parts of the reproductive cycle. This framework is used to examine current knowledge of changes in maternal nutritional status during each of these parts. RESULTS: Women in affluent societies retain some weight with each pregnancy, beyond that of non-pregnant women. Women in less affluent societies retain less weight with each pregnancy. During lactation, women in both affluent and less affluent societies experience only modest weight loss. During the NP/NL interval, women in affluent societies tend to gain weight, whereas weight of women in less affluent societies is likely to fluctuate. CONCLUSIONS: We conclude that there is a dearth of information on certain parts of the cycle, particularly the periods of overlap of lactation with pregnancy and the NP/NL interval. PMID: 12548306 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]

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