Mothers-to-be, don't worry too much about getting heavier, as according to Science Daily, if there's any time when for weight gain, it's during pregnancy.

Researchers from the University of Maryland School of Public Health surveyed 159, 244 mothers who delivered single babies between 2004 and 2008 to assess how gestational weight gain (GWG) and body mass index (BMI) may be linked to infant mortality.

The results showed that mothers who didn't gain enough weight during pregnancy bore infants with a mortality risk of 3.9 percent. The risk fell to 1.2 among those whose mothers gained enough weight, further dropping to 0.7 percent for infants whose mothers put on more pounds than recommended. Interestingly, expectant women who were overweight or obese and who still grew heavier were 49 percent less likely to experience infant death.

Researchers believe that underweight women should put on 28 to 40 pounds while pregnant. Normal weight women are expected to gain 25 to 35 pounds, overweight women are advised to gain 15 to 25 pounds, while obese women need to gain 11 to 20 pounds.

“Our study showed that gaining too little weight during pregnancy is a risk factor for infant mortality for all but the heaviest women,” says lead researcher Dr. Regina Davis.

Although the additional weight protects babies from conditions that could cause sudden death, women with high BMI still need to be careful about packing on the pounds, as it could cause cardiovascular complications.

“It is important that childbearing women have pregnancy weight gain goals that are specific to their individual BMI,” senior study author Dr. Sandra Hofferth concludes.

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(Photo by Fábio Goveia via Flickr Creative Commons)

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