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Socioeconomic disparities in prepregnancy BMI and impact on maternal and neonatal outcomes and postpartum weight retention: the EFHL longitudinal birth cohort study

journal contribution
posted on 2023-05-18, 19:45 authored by Ng, S-K, Cameron, CM, Andrew HillsAndrew Hills, McClure, RJ, Scuffham, PA

Background: Long-term obesity after pregnancy is associated with obesity prior to pregnancy and retention of weight postpartum. This study aims to identify socioeconomic differences in prepregnancy body mass index, quantify the impact of prepregnancy obesity on birth outcomes, and identify determinants of postpartum weight retention.

Methods: A total of 2231 pregnant women, recruited from three public hospitals in Southeast Queensland in Australia during antenatal clinic visits, completed a questionnaire to elicit information on demographics, socioeconomic and behavioural characteristics. Perinatal information was extracted from hospital records. A follow-up questionnaire was completed by each participant at 12 months after the birth to obtain the mother’s postpartum weight, breastfeeding pattern, dietary and physical activity characteristics, and the child’s health and development information. Multivariate logistic regression method was used to model the association between prepregnancy obesity and outcomes.

Results: Being overweight or obese prepregnancy was strongly associated with socioeconomic status and adverse behavioural factors. Obese women (18% of the cohort) were more likely to experience gestational diabetes, preeclampsia, cesarean delivery, and their children were more likely to experience intensive- or special-care nursery admission, fetal distress, resuscitation, and macrosomia. Women were more likely to retain weight postpartum if they consumed three or fewer serves of fruit/vegetables per day, did not engage in recreational activity with their baby, spent less than once a week on walking for 30 minutes or more or spent time with friends less than once per week. Mothers who breastfed for more than 3 months had reduced likelihood of high postpartum weight retention.

Conclusions: Findings provide additional specificity to the increasing evidence of the predisposition of obesity prepregnancy on adverse maternal and perinatal outcomes. They may be used to target effective behavioural change interventions to address obesity in women.


Publication title

BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth








School of Health Sciences


BioMed Central Ltd.

Place of publication

United Kingdom

Repository Status

  • Restricted

Socio-economic Objectives

Social structure and health

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