Pre-conception and prenatal factors influencing gestational weight gain: a prospective study in Tigray region, northern Ethiopia

Kebede Haile Misgina*, Eline M. van der Beek, H. Marike Boezen, Afework Mulugeta Bezabih, Henk Groen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)
44 Downloads (Pure)


Background In low-income countries, the high prevalence of pre-pregnancy undernutrition remains a challenge for the future health of women and their offspring. On top of good nutrition, adequate gestational weight gain has been recognized as an essential prerequisite for optimal maternal and child health outcomes. However, good-quality data on factors influencing gestational weight gain is lacking. Therefore, this study was aimed to prospectively identify pre-conception and prenatal factors influencing gestational weight gain in Ethiopia. Methods A population based prospective study was undertaken between February 2018 and January 2019 in the Tigray region, northern Ethiopia. Firstly, the weight of non-pregnant women of reproductive age living in the study area was measured between August and October 2017. Subsequently, eligible pregnant women identified during the study period were included consecutively and followed until birth. Data were collected through an interviewer-administered questionnaire and anthropometric measurements complemented with secondary data. Gestational weight gain, i.e., the difference between 32 to 36 weeks of gestation and pre-pregnancy weights, was classified as per the Institute of Medicine (IOM) guideline. Linear, spline, and logistic regression models were used to estimate the influence of pre-conception and prenatal factors on gestational weight gain. Results The mean gestational weight gain (standard deviation[SD]) was 10.6 (2.3) kg. Overall, 64.0% (95% CI 60.9, 67.1) of the women did not achieve adequate weight gain. Factors associated with higher gestational weight gain were higher women empowerment (B 0.60, 95% CI 0.06, 1.14), dietary diversity (B 0.39, 95% CI 0.03, 0.76), pre-pregnancy body mass index (B 0.13, 95% CI 0.05, 0.22), and haemoglobin (B 0.54, 95% CI 0.45, 0.64). Additionally, adequate prenatal care (B 0.58, 95% CI 0.28, 0.88) was associated with higher gestational weight gain. Conclusions Adequate gestational weight gain was not achieved by most women in the study area, primarily not by those who were underweight before pregnancy. Interventions that advance women's empowerment, dietary quality, pre-pregnancy nutritional status, and prenatal care utilization may improve gestational weight gain and contribute to optimizing maternal and child health outcomes.

Original languageEnglish
Article number718
Number of pages13
JournalBMC Pregnancy and Childbirth
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 26-Oct-2021


  • Body mass index
  • Ethiopia
  • Gestational weight gain
  • Socioeconomic factors

Cite this