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Acta Obstétrica e Ginecológica Portuguesa

versión impresa ISSN 1646-5830


COSTA, Paulina et al. Maternal and fetal consequences of inappropriate weight gain and obesity in pregnancy: what do pregnant women know?. Acta Obstet Ginecol Port [online]. 2022, vol.16, n.3, pp.201-211.  Epub 30-Sep-2022. ISSN 1646-5830.

Overview and Aims.

Maternal obesity has negative consequences on maternal-fetal wellbeing, and its prevalence has been rising. However, the evidence of pregnant women’s knowledge about this subject, especially in Portugal, is sparse. This study aims to assess the prevalence of obesity in a population of pregnant women, the perception of their weight and gestational weight gain(GWG), and their knowledge about the possible maternal-fetal consequences of excessive GWG and obesity.

Study Design, Population and Methods.

A cross-sectional survey was conducted in a Portuguese hospital, for 6 months, with pregnant women at term pregnancy consultation. Demographic characterization, self-evaluation of pre-gestational Body Mass Index (BMI) and GWG were assessed, as well as women’s awareness of negative consequences of maternal obesity and excessive GWG. The answers were compared to objective data collected during the appointments. SPSS® (V27) was used for statistical analysis and p < 0,05 was considered significant.


The sample included 138 women. The median pre-gestational BMI was 23.93 kg/m2. The prevalence of low, normal, excessive weight and obesity was 0.7% (n=1), 56.5% (n=78), 27.5% (n=38) and 15.2% (n=21), respectively. The average GWG was 13.72 kg. Three-quarters of women correctly classified their pre-gestational BMI (k=0.525), showing moderate agreement. Only 33.3% of obese women correctly self-classified their BMI (versus 97.4% with normal BMI), mostly underestimating it. One hundred (72.5%) women considered their GWG adequate, although this was verified in only 58 (42.0%) of them, indicating a fair agreement. Women with inadequate GWG had higher pre-gestational BMI when compared to women with adequate GWG (25.71 versus 22.59; p<0,05). Most women acknowledged the negative consequences on pregnancy and their descendants’ health, but couldn’t specify them.


This is the first Portuguese study about this subject. The prevalence of pre-gestational obesity in this population was 15.4%. Pregnant women had a low perception about their weight and GWG, and of the specific consequences of maternal obesity, indicating an urgent need to raise awareness for this problem.

Palabras clave : Obesity; Gestational weight gain; Pregnancy complications; Body Mass Index.

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