Maternal Anthropometry and Weight Gain as Risk Factors for Poor Pregnancy Outcomes in a Rural Area of Southern Malawi|
Poor pregnancy outcomes are frequent in developing countries. The commonly studied outcomes are low birth weight (LBW), preterm birth and intra-uterine growth retardation (IUGR), both of which are related to LBW. Pregnancy outcomes are influenced by several maternal factors including malaria nutrition, psychological stress and socio-demographic factors. Apart from nutritional and psycho-socio factors, pregnancy outcomes are also influenced
by maternal anthropometric indices. In developing countries, low prepregnancy body mass indexes are on the other hand predictors of adverse pregnancy outcomes. Most important, poor pregnancy outcomes are not an end in themselves, but lead to increased neonatal morbidity and mortality, and must therefore be controlled.
In pregnancy, weight gain is affected by prepregnancy weight, age, psychosocial stress and antenatal care advice. Weight gain in pregnancy is also known to influence pregnancy outcomes including LBW, preterm delivery, small for gestational age delivery (SGA) and cesarean delivery. In Malawi, and generally in the developing world, factors affecting weight gain and the effect of weight gain on pregnancy outcomes have not been studied. The aim of this study was to determine the anthropometric risk factors for pregnancy outcomes, risk factors for pregnancy weight gain and effect of weight gain on pregnancy outcomes. These risk factors are of public health significance because they affect human health throughout life.