Gestational weight gain in accordance to the IOM/NRC criteria and the risk for childhood overweight: a meta-analysis


Address for correspondence: Dr I Nehring, MSc, Division of Epidemiology, Institute of Social Paediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, Ludwig-Maximilians University of Munich, Heiglhofstr. 63, Munich 81377, Germany. E-mail:


What is already known about this subject

  • Gestational weight gain is a modifiable risk factor for childhood overweight.

What this study adds

  • Exceeding the recommended gestational weight gain increases the risk for childhood overweight by about 30%.
  • Interventions to avoid excessive weight gain are needed.


Overweight and obesity in children are thought to be related to prenatal priming. Gestational weight gain (GWG) might be a potential modifiable risk factor for childhood overweight.


To quantify the associations of inadequate and excessive GWG with childhood overweight.


The electronic literature search in six databases was complemented by a hand search for relevant articles. Papers were selected and quality was assessed. The effect estimates of the individual studies were pooled using a random-effects model.


The literature search yielded 1492 results in total, of which seven observational studies met the inclusion criteria. The studies had medium to good quality. The pooled estimate for the association between excessive GWG and childhood overweight yielded an odds ratio (OR) of 1.38 (95% confidence interval [CI]: 1.21–1.57). The association between inadequate GWG and childhood overweight yielded an OR of 0.91 (95% CI: 0.85–0.98).


These data provide evidence for at least a 21% risk for childhood overweight related to excessive GWG. Therefore, further efforts to design appropriate interventions against excessive GWG may appear warranted.