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Nutritional Sciences News & Highlights


New Insights on Pregnancy and Obesity

New Insights on Pregnancy and Obesity

The foods and nutrients a woman consumes while pregnant have important health implications for her and her baby. At Nutrition 2019, the annual meeting of the American Society for Nutrition, University of Texas at Austin researchers shared new findings about the impacts of a mother's diet during pregnancy and after the baby is born.

Nutrition 2019, held June 8-11, 2019 at the Baltimore Convention Center, featured research by graduate student Amy Nichols, who studies nutrition in high-risk pregnancies.

Nichols presented research on how obesity before pregnancy increases the risk of some health problems for a pregnant woman and her baby, with differing impacts depending on whether the obesity is mild or severe. In the new study of more than 25,000 women, Nichols and her co-author assistant professor Elizabeth Widen found those with more severe obesity gained less weight during pregnancy, but had larger babies, than those with less severe obesity, suggesting doctors' recommendations about the risks and optimal management of obesity during pregnancy may need to be tailored to the severity of the obesity. This study also found only one in five obese women gained the recommended amount of weight during pregnancy while 60 percent gained excessive weight. 

In addition to having her research highlighted at this meeting, Nichols has received a number of other recent awards. She received the 2019 Jean Hankin Nutritional Epidemiology Research Grant from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Foundation, to provide financial support for her dissertation in the area of nutritional epidemiology, as well as an American Society for Nutrition Predoctoral Fellowship, in recognition of the excellence of her dissertation research.

Nichols' research focuses in part on maternal nutrition during pregnancy in women with twins and higher order multiple gestations.