By Ellie McDonald

Piling on the pounds during pregnancy raises the risk of dying young, warns a new study.

Researchers found those who gained more than the now-recommended amount of weight during pregnancy had a higher risk of death from heart disease or diabetes in the decades that followed.

New analysis of 50 years worth of data, published in The Lancet, found that there was a higher risk of death for women in all weight groups studied — including those defined as underweight, normal weight, or overweight prior to their pregnancies — but no increase in risk was found among those who had been obese.

Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania in the US studied a large national data set over a timeline from when a person gave birth through to the next five decades, assessing mortality rates for different weight categories.

Piling on the pounds during pregnancy raises the risk of dying young, warns a new study. PHOTO BY LEAH KELLEY/PEXELS 

Dr. Stefanie Hinkle, an Assistant Professor of Epidemiology and Obstetrics and Gynecology, said: “We showed that gaining weight during pregnancy within the current guidelines may protect against possible negative impacts much later in life, and this builds upon evidence of the short-term benefits for both maternal health and the health of the baby.”

The research included a racially diverse cohort who gave birth between 1950 to 1960 and linked their medical records to mortality data through to 2016, some 50 years later.

It analyzed information from more than 45,000 people, including their body mass indices (BMI), and weight changes during pregnancy and then made a comparison to modern-day recommendations.

Piling on the pounds during pregnancy raises the risk of dying young, warns a new study. PHOTO BY LEAH KELLEY/PEXELS 

Those numbers were then linked first to deaths of any cause, then to deaths by cardiovascular or diabetes-related causes.

Four in 10 (39 percent) of the people in the study had died by 2016, and those with the lowest BMI died at a lower rate than those with the highest BMI.

Among those who were ‘underweight’ before pregnancy but gained more than the (now) recommended amount of weight, the risk of death related to heart disease climbed by 84 percent.

Among those considered to be of “normal” weight before their pregnancy (which was roughly two-thirds of the cohort), all-cause mortality rose by nine percent when they gained more weight than recommended, with their risk of heart disease-related death climbing by 20 percent.

Finally, those considered “overweight” had a 12 percent increased risk of dying if they gained more weight than is now recommended, with a 12 percent increase in their risk of diabetes-related death.

The study found no correlation between high weight gain during pregnancy and subsequent deaths among those in the obese range.

Modern recommendations for weight gain during pregnancy were set in 2009 and are linked directly to a person’s weight at the start of their pregnancy.

They range from 28 to 40 pounds for people considered “underweight” by BMI standards to 11 to 20 pounds for those considered “obese.”

Dr Hinkle added: “We are committed to delving deeper into the various factors that can affect pregnant individuals’ ability to achieve healthy weight gain during pregnancy.

“Our team is dedicated to exploring the social, structural, biological, and individual aspects that play a role in this process.”

Produced in association with SWNS Talker