Maternal nutritional status during pregnancy as a predictor of Ponderal index and body proportionality at birth, in term neonates

Brinda Prasanna Kumar, Adarsh Eregowda, Sahana Manjunath


Background: It is well established that maternal body mass index (BMI) and haemoglobin (Hb) level has an impact on foetal growth. Various studies have concluded that intrauterine growth as reflected by the Ponderal index (PI) is strongly influenced by various maternal factors. Therefore, we undertake this study to address the evidence gap to establish the strength of association between maternal nutritional status as indicated by her pre-pregnancy BMI and haemoglobin levels and neonatal PI.

Methods: A hospital based cross-sectional, observational study was conducted that included 236 normal newborns and their mothers. A predesigned questionnaire was used to collect relevant socio-demographic data and obstetric history. Details regarding the maternal pre-pregnancy weight were collected from antenatal records, maternal height was measured and BMI was calculated. Neonatal birth weight and recumbent length was measured. PI was calculated and co-related with the maternal BMI and haemoglobin values.

Results: 11.9% of the mothers were underweight and 51.3% had normal BMI. Majority of the mothers (62.7%) had normal Hb levels and 0.4% were found to have severe anemia (Hb <7 mg/dl). We saw a significant positive correlation (p<0.05) between BMI and birth weight, BMI and PI that is, with decrease in BMI there was a significant decrease in the birth weight and PI of the newborn. There was no significant correlation between haemoglobin level and PI.

Conclusions: Our study showed a positive association between maternal pre-pregnancy BMI and birth weight, BMI and PI. Therefore, interventions aimed at improving the nutritional status of the mother have a direct impact on the foetal growth outcomes.


Maternal nutrition, Ponderal index, Anthropometry, Pre pregnancy BMI

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