In Japan, many young women desire to be slim, contributing to an increase in the number of women with low gestational weight gain. This study aimed to clarify the association between low gestational weight gain and low birth weight infant, desire of pregnant women to be slim, self-efficacy, or quality of life (QOL). Subjects were Japanese women in their ≥24th week of pregnancy who visited four primary hospitals in Japan for prenatal checkups. We conducted a self-administered questionnaire survey of these women and later collected information on childbirth from medical records. Analysis of pre-pregnancy weight showed that 43 (16%) of 268 pregnant women were underweight. Gestational weight gain was insufficient in 172 (64%) women based on the IOM recommendation or in 35 (13%) women based on the guideline used in Japan. More than 50% of the women had a desire to be slim, and 16% were actually on a diet during the first trimester. Self-efficacy had no correlation to low gestational weight gain, whereas gestational weight gain of <10 kg was correlated with low birth weight infant (p <0.025) and poor physical QOL among the women (p<0.019). Research shows that Japanese pregnant women are likely to desire to be too slim, in addition to being a risk factor for infants with low birth weight. Low gestational weight gain is associated with poor physical QOL, but not self-efficacy in pregnant women. It is important for health providers to establish positive prenatal care that does not reinforce weight consciousness among Japanese pregnant women.
Key words: Maternal underweight, gestational weight gain, quality of life, low birth weight infant, desire to be slender.
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