Women seem to be aware that they should reduce their alcohol and caffeine intakes in the run up to pregnancy and some may take folic acid supplements. However, the importance of attaining a ‘healthy’ body weight before becoming pregnant seems to be one key area that is overlooked. For women, being overweight or obese can reduce fertility, and increase the risk of certain medical conditions such as gestational diabetes, pre-eclampsia and delivery complications in pregnancy. Equally, being underweight before conception brings with it separate health implications, including fertility problems and increased risk of small-for-gestational age (SGA) deliveries. Consequently, body weights outside recommended reference ranges before pregnancy may contribute to a cycle of poor intergenerational health, as well as driving up health care costs. Health interventions are needed to increase women's understanding about why it is important to achieve a healthy body weight before becoming pregnant and how this can be safety achieved without impacting on nutrition status.
Keywords: Body weight, fertility, infant health, maternal health, obesity, underweight, pregnant, oveweight, health, complications
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