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Prediction of gestational weight gain – a biopsychosocial model

  • Emily Heery (a1), Cecily C Kelleher (a1), Patrick G Wall (a1) and Fionnuala M McAuliffe (a2)



To examine the influence of health behaviours and psychological well-being on gestational weight gain using a biopsychosocial model.


A prospective cohort study of pregnant women consecutively recruited at their first antenatal care visit. A self-administered questionnaire was used to collect data on health behaviours and psychological well-being in early pregnancy. Linear regression and logistic regression were used to identify predictors of total weight gain in kilograms and weight gain outside the current Institute of Medicine recommendations, respectively.


A maternity hospital in the Republic of Ireland.


Data on 799 women were analysed.


Pre-pregnant BMI ≥30·0 kg/m2, short stature, parity >0, decreased food intake and absence of health insurance predicted lower absolute gestational weight gain, while foreign nationality, consumption of takeaway meals more than once weekly and increased food intake predicted higher absolute gestational weight gain. Overweight and obesity, foreign nationality, increased food intake and height >170 cm were risk factors for excessive weight gain, while antenatal depression was protective against excessive weight gain. Notably, physical activity measures were not related to the gestational weight gain outcomes. Pre-pregnancy overweight and increased food intake were the strongest predictors of excessive gestational weight gain.


None of the psychological well-being measures examined, with the exception of antenatal depression, was associated with any of the weight gain outcomes. The behavioural predictors of gestational weight gain were increased food intake and takeaway consumption. Public health promotions should target pre-pregnancy BMI and pregnancy-associated change in food intake.

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