(HealthDay News) – For pregnant women, dietary and lifestyle interventions are associated with a reduction in maternal gestational weight gain, with the largest reduction and improved pregnancy outcomes seen with dietary interventions, according to a review published online May 17 in BMJ.

Shakila Thangaratinam, PhD, of the Queen Mary University of London, and colleagues conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials that evaluated dietary or lifestyle interventions in pregnancy and their effect on obstetric outcomes.

The researchers identified 44 studies involving 7,278 women that assessed diet, physical activity, and a mixed intervention approach. Compared with control, there was a 1.42kg reduction in gestational weight gain with any intervention. For the interventions combined, no significant differences were noted in birth weight or incidence of large- or small-for-gestational-age babies between the groups. Physical activity by itself correlated with reduced birth weight. There was a reduction in the risk of preeclampsia (relative risk [RR], 0.74) and shoulder dystocia (RR, 0.39) in the intervention groups, but there was no significant effect on any other critically important outcome. The largest reduction in maternal gestational weight gain was seen with dietary intervention (3.84kg), which also improved pregnancy outcomes compared with other interventions.

“Dietary and lifestyle interventions in pregnancy can reduce maternal gestational weight gain and improve outcomes for both mother and baby,” the authors write. “Among the interventions, those based on diet are the most effective and are associated with reductions in maternal gestational weight gain and improved obstetric outcomes.”

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