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August 6, 1973

Nutrition in Pregnancy—A Critique

Author Affiliations

From the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Harvard Medical School. Dr. Jacobson is Chairman, Committee on Maternal Nutrition, Food and Nutrition Board, National Research Council.

JAMA. 1973;225(6):634. doi:10.1001/jama.1973.03220330046016

After a decade of disinterest in the importance of maternal nutrition, a recent awakening of concern has occurred, and a serious reappraisal is well under way. One result that has already emerged is the new evidence that prenatal care, a patient's pre-pregnancy weight, and total weight gain during pregnancy all exert strong influences on the weight of an infant at birth. Birth weight, a commonly used measure of an infant's maturity, is strongly associated with both infant mortality and morbidity. As pointed out in Maternal Nutrition and the Course of Pregnancy, Summary Report,1 "an average weight gain during pregnancy of 24 lb [10.8 kg] (range 20-25 lb [9.0-11.3 kg]) is commensurate with a better than average course and outcome of pregnancy." Optimal weight gain for a normal pregnant woman can now be estimated using three approaches—based on (1) data on total weight gains measured during normal pregnancies; (2) the