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Matern Child Health J. 2011 Oct;15(7):829-35. doi: 10.1007/s10995-009-0473-2. Epub 2009 May 27.

Preconception predictors of birth outcomes: prospective findings from the central Pennsylvania women's health study.

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  • 1College of Medicine, Pennsylvania State University, 600 Centerview Drive, A210, Hershey, PA, 17033, USA. cweisman@psu.edu



To examine maternal pre-pregnancy (preconception) predictors of birthweight and fetal growth for singleton live births occurring over a 2-year period in a prospective study.


Data are from a population-based cohort study of 1,420 women who were interviewed at baseline and 2-years later; self-report data and birth records were obtained for incident live births during the followup period. The analytic sample includes 116 singleton births. Baseline preconception maternal health status and health-related behaviors were examined as predictors of birthweight and fetal growth, controlling for prenatal and sociodemographic variables, using multiple regression analysis.


Preconception BMI (overweight or obese) and vegetable consumption (at least one serving per day) had statistically significant independent and positive effects on birthweight and fetal growth. Maternal weight gain during pregnancy, a prenatal variable, was an additional independent predictor of birthweight and fetal growth. Sociodemographic variables were not significant predictors after controlling for preconception and prenatal maternal characteristics.


Findings confirm that preconception maternal health status and health-related behaviors can affect birthweight and fetal growth independent of prenatal and socioeconomic variables. Implications for preconception care are discussed.

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