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High frequency of low birth weight (LBW) is observed in rural compared with urban Indian women. Since maternal BMI is known to be associated with pregnancy outcomes, the present study aimed to investigate factors associated with BMI in early pregnancy of urban and rural South Indian women.
Prospective observational cohort.
A hospital-based study conducted at an urban and a rural health centre in Karnataka State.
Pregnant women (n 843) aged 18–40 years recruited in early pregnancy from whom detailed sociodemographic, environmental, anthropometric and dietary intake information was collected.
A high proportion of low BMI (32 v. 26 %, P<0·000) and anaemia (48 v. 23 %, P<0·000) was observed in the rural v. the urban cohort. Rural women were younger, had lower body weight, tended to be shorter and less educated. They lived in poor housing conditions, had less access to piped water and good sanitation, used unrefined fuel for cooking and had lower standard of living score. The age (β=0·21, 95 % CI 0·14, 0·29), education level of their spouse (β=1·36, 95 % CI 0·71, 2·71) and fat intake (β=1·24, 95 % CI 0·20, 2·28) were positively associated with BMI in urban women.
Our findings indicate that risk factors associated with BMI in early pregnancy are different in rural and urban settings. It is important to study population-specific risk factors in relation to perinatal health.
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