Protein and Fat Deposition

During pregnancy, protein is mainly deposited in the fetus (42%). The remainder is accounted for by the gain of uterine (17%), blood (14%), placenta (10%), and mammary (8%) tissues. The increment in total body protein in well-nourished pregnant women has been estimated from changes in total body potassium. King et al. [16], Pipe et al. [17], Forsum et al. [18], and Butte et al. [19] estimated that an average of 686 g of protein are deposited unequally throughout pregnancy, mainly in late pregnancy. Butte and colleagues [15] studied total protein deposition in relation to BMI and reported that protein accretion did not differ significantly among low to high BMI groups.

Total fat accretion, the major contributor to energy deposition, was studied in well-nourished pregnant women using multicomponent body composition models based on total body water, body volume, and body mineral content [17, 18, 20-25, 28, 30]. The average estimate was 3.7 kg (range = 2.4-5.9). Mean fat gains in the study of Butte and colleagues [15] were 5.3 kg, 4.6 kg, and 8.4 kg for women in the low-, normal-, and high-BMI groups, respectively. Also, maternal fat retention at 27 weeks postpartum was significantly higher in women who gained weight above the IOM recommendations than in those who gained weight within or below those recommendations.

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