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Journal of Obesity
Volume 2014, Article ID 204295, 10 pages
Review Article

Periconception Weight Loss: Common Sense for Mothers, but What about for Babies?

1School of Medicine, The University of Queensland, 288 Herston Road, Herston, QLD 4006, Australia
2The UQ Centre for Clinical Research, The University of Queensland, RBWH Campus, Butterfield Street, Herston, QLD 4029, Australia
3The Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital, Butterfield Street, Herston, QLD 4029, Australia

Received 11 October 2013; Accepted 3 March 2014; Published 2 April 2014

Academic Editor: Kieron Rooney

Copyright © 2014 Kristine Matusiak et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Obesity in the childbearing population is increasingly common. Obesity is associated with increased risk for a number of maternal and neonatal pregnancy complications. Some of these complications, such as gestational diabetes, are risk factors for long-term disease in both mother and baby. While clinical practice guidelines advocate for healthy weight prior to pregnancy, there is not a clear directive for achieving healthy weight before conception. There are known benefits to even moderate weight loss prior to pregnancy, but there are potential adverse effects of restricted nutrition during the periconceptional period. Epidemiological and animal studies point to differences in offspring conceived during a time of maternal nutritional restriction. These include changes in hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis function, body composition, glucose metabolism, and cardiovascular function. The periconceptional period is therefore believed to play an important role in programming offspring physiological function and is sensitive to nutritional insult. This review summarizes the evidence to date for offspring programming as a result of maternal periconception weight loss. Further research is needed in humans to clearly identify benefits and potential risks of losing weight in the months before conceiving. This may then inform us of clinical practice guidelines for optimal approaches to achieving a healthy weight before pregnancy.