Maternal and Child Health Journal

, Volume 20, Issue 7, pp 1485–1496 | Cite as

Ethnic Differences in Gestational Weight Gain: A Population-Based Cohort Study in Norway

  • Tarja I. KinnunenEmail author
  • Christin W. Waage
  • Christine Sommer
  • Line Sletner
  • Jani Raitanen
  • Anne Karen Jenum


Objectives To explore ethnic differences in gestational weight gain (GWG). Methods This was a population-based cohort study conducted in primary care child health clinics in Groruddalen, Oslo, Norway. Participants were healthy pregnant women (n = 632) categorised to six ethnic groups (43 % were Western European women, the reference group). Body weight was measured at 15 and 28 weeks’ gestation on average. Data on pre-pregnancy weight and total GWG until delivery were self-reported. The main method of analysis was linear regression adjusting for age, weeks’ gestation, pre-pregnancy body mass index, education and severe nausea. Results No ethnic differences were observed in GWG by 15 weeks’ gestation. By 28 weeks’ gestation, Eastern European women had gained 2.71 kg (95 % confidence interval, CI 1.10–4.33) and Middle Eastern women 1.32 kg (95 % CI 0.14–2.50) more weight on average than the Western European women in the fully adjusted model. Among Eastern European women, the total adjusted GWG was 3.47 kg (95 % CI 1.33–5.61) above the reference group. Other ethnic groups (South Asian, East Asian and African) did not differ from the reference group. When including non-smokers (n = 522) only, observed between-group differences increased and Middle Eastern women gained more weight than the reference group by all time points. Conclusions Eastern European and Middle Eastern women had higher GWG on average than Western European women, especially among the non-smokers. Although prevention of excessive GWG is important for all pregnant women, these ethnic groups might need special attention during pregnancy.


Ethnicity Pregnancy Gestational weight gain Fat gain Smoking 



This research was by funded by The Research Council of Norway and the South-Eastern Norway Regional Health Authority, Norwegian Directorate of Health and collaborative partners in The City of Oslo, Stovner, Grorud and Bjerke administrative districts. The pregnant women who participated in this study are gratefully acknowledged. We also thank the study staff at the child health clinics in Stovner, Grorud and Bjerke districts in Oslo and Haavard Skaaland, Oslo University Hospital, for help with the data collection.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Tarja I. Kinnunen
    • 1
    Email author
  • Christin W. Waage
    • 2
    • 3
  • Christine Sommer
    • 2
    • 3
  • Line Sletner
    • 4
  • Jani Raitanen
    • 1
    • 5
  • Anne Karen Jenum
    • 3
    • 6
  1. 1.School of Health SciencesUniversity of TampereTampereFinland
  2. 2.Department of Endocrinology, Morbid Obesity and Preventive MedicineOslo University HospitalOsloNorway
  3. 3.Department of General Practice, Institute of Health and Society, Faculty of MedicineUniversity of OsloOsloNorway
  4. 4.Department of Child and Adolescents MedicineAkerhus University HospitalLørenskog, OsloNorway
  5. 5.The UKK Institute for Health Promotion ResearchTampereFinland
  6. 6.Faculty of Health SciencesOslo and Akershus University College of Applied SciencesOsloNorway

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