Cardiometabolic Implications of Postpartum Weight Changes in the First Year After Delivery

  1. Ravi Retnakaran1,2,6
  1. 1Leadership Sinai Centre for Diabetes, Mount Sinai Hospital, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
  2. 2Division of Endocrinology, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
  3. 3Department of Nutritional Sciences, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
  4. 4Keenan Research Centre, Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute, St. Michael’s Hospital, Toronto, Canada
  5. 5Division of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Mount Sinai Hospital, Toronto, Canada
  6. 6Lunenfeld-Tanenbaum Research Institute, Mount Sinai Hospital, Toronto, Canada
  1. Corresponding author: Ravi Retnakaran, rretnakaran{at}


OBJECTIVE The cumulative effect of postpartum weight retention from each pregnancy in a woman’s life may contribute to her ultimate risk of diabetes and vascular disease. However, there is little direct evidence supporting this hypothesis. In this context, we sought to evaluate the cardiometabolic implications of patterns of postpartum weight change and the time course thereof in the first year after pregnancy.

RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODS Three hundred five women underwent cardiometabolic characterization at recruitment in pregnancy and at 3 and 12 months postpartum. Based on their respective weight changes between prepregnancy and 3 months postpartum (loss or gain) and between 3 and 12 months postpartum (loss or gain), participants were stratified into four groups: loss/loss, gain/loss, loss/gain, and gain/gain.

RESULTS Most women (81.0%) had higher weight at 3 months postpartum compared with prepregnancy. Between 3 and 12 months, most women (74.4%) lost weight. At 3 months, there were modest differences between the four groups in mean adjusted LDL cholesterol (P = 0.01) and apolipoprotein-B (apoB; P = 0.02) but no significant differences in adjusted blood pressure, fasting and 2-h glucose, HDL, triglycerides, homeostasis model assessment of insulin resistance (HOMA-IR), adiponectin, and C-reactive protein. By 12-months postpartum, however, clear gradients emerged, with mean adjusted diastolic blood pressure (P = 0.02), HOMA-IR (P = 0.0003), LDL (P = 0.001), and apoB (P < 0.0001) all progressively increasing from the loss/loss group to gain/loss to loss/gain to gain/gain. Similarly, at 12-months, mean adjusted adiponectin showed a stepwise decrease from loss/loss to gain/loss to loss/gain to gain/gain (P = 0.003).

CONCLUSIONS An adverse cardiometabolic profile emerges as early as 1 year postpartum in women who do not lose weight between 3 and 12 months after delivery.

  • Received January 11, 2014.
  • Accepted February 20, 2014.

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  1. Diabetes Care
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