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Gestational weight gain in relation to offspring obesity over the life course: a systematic review and bias-adjusted meta-analysis

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Gestational weight gain (GWG) is considered one of the risk factors for future obesity in the offspring. However, the direction and strength of this association at different periods of offspring life is relatively unknown. This study investigates whether excess or inadequate maternal GWG during pregnancy influences the risk of offspring obesity at different stages in life. A systematic review of published articles was undertaken after a comprehensive search of different databases, and extracted data were meta-analysed. To quantify offspring obesity estimates in relation to GWG, we stratified obesity estimates within three life stages of the offspring age: <5 years, 5 to <18 years and 18+ years. Our meta-analysis showed that, compared with offspring of women with adequate GWG, offspring of women who gained inadequate gestational weight were at a decreased risk of obesity (relative risk [RR]: 0.86; 95% confidence interval [CI]: 0.78–0.94), and offspring of women who gained excess weight were at an increased risk of obesity (RR: 1.40; 95% CI: 1.23–1.59). These relationships were similar after stratification by life stage. Findings of this study therefore suggest that excess GWG does influence offspring obesity over the short- and long-term, and should therefore be avoided.

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