To determine whether the overall retention of weight gained during pregnancy and the factors affecting postpartum weight retention differ by race.
Data from the 1988 National Maternal and Infant Health Survey were analyzed to examine postpartum weight retention of 20 lb or more among 990 black and 1129 white women who began pregnancy with normal weight for height. The impact of various maternal characteristics on both weight retention and the association between weight retention and race was tested by multivariate methods.
Black mothers were twice as likely to retain at least 20 lb than white mothers (adjusted odds ratio 2.20, 95% confidence interval 1.50-3.22). This black-white difference did not differ substantially by socioeconomic status. However, many factors affecting postpartum weight retention differed by maternal race. For example, whereas unmarried status was associated with weight retention among white mothers, high parity was associated with weight retention among black mothers. Low socioeconomic status and high prenatal weight gain were associated with an increased risk of weight retention for both black and white mothers.
These data suggest that population-specific strategies may be needed to help mothers return to their pre-pregnancy weight.