Effect of fat and fat-free mass deposition during pregnancy on birth weight

Josä Villar, Mary Cogswell, Edgard Kestler, Patricia Castillo, Romeo Menendez, John T. Repke

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

132 Scopus citations


OBJECTIVES: The purposes of our study were to describe the patterns and location of fat and fat-free mass deposition during pregnancy and to evaluate their effects on fetal growth. STUDY DESIGN: Our study is a prospective follow-up of 105 healthy pregnant women who were delivered of term infants. Body composition was evaluated eight times during gestation with anthropometric measures and bioimpedance techniques. Body fat and fat-free mass were calculated with equations specifically developed for this population. RESULTS: Total weight gain was 10.0 ± 3.5 kg; net weight gain was 3.7 ± 0.31 kg; birth weight was 3211 ± 467 gm (values are mean ± SEM). In these women fat was deposited mostly in the thigh and subscapular region for a total of 6.23 ± 0.19 kg at term. The period of pregnancy of the largest maternal fat deposition per week is between the twentieth and thirtieth weeks. After adjusting by prepregnancy weight, birth weight is associated with maternal changes in thigh skin folds and fat gain before the thirtieth week of gestation. Infants born to mothers with low fat gain before the thirtieth week were 204 gm lighter than infants born to mothers with fat gain ≥25th percentile of this population. CONCLUSION: Maternal nutritional status at the beginning of gestation and the rate of fat gain early in pregnancy are the two nutritional indicators most strongly associated with fetal growth in this population.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1344-1352
Number of pages9
JournalAmerican journal of obstetrics and gynecology
Issue number5
StatePublished - 1992

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Obstetrics and Gynecology


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