African-American women who are obese or have gained a significant amount of weight during pregnancy have a higher chance of giving birth to abnormally large babies, according to study findings published online in the journal Obesity and reported by HealthDay News.

For the study, researchers reviewed data on 59,000 mothers from the Black Women’s Health Study. Scientists compared information on the moms of 691 full-term infants who weighed more than 8.8 pounds—a condition known as macrosomia—with that of mothers with newborns who weighed less.

Researchers found that mothers who were overweight and who gained excess weight before and during pregnancy had a higher risk of having a baby with macrosomia. Macrosomia can lead to infection, hemorrhage, preeclampsia (high blood pressure and protein in the urine) and a baby’s death near birth; the condition can also necessitate a C-section.

’’Our data suggest that it is especially important for obese women to adhere to the [Institute of Medicine] guidelines for pregnancy weight gain to reduce their risk of macrosomia,’’ said the study’s senior author, Lauren Wise, ScD, ScM, an associate professor of epidemiology at the Boston University School of Public Health.

According to the Institute of Medicine, obese women should restrict weight gain to between 11 to 20 pounds during pregnancy, overweight women to between 15 to 25 pounds and women of normal weight to between 25 to 35 pounds.

Findings also show that children of obese mothers may also be at higher risk of autism. Click here to read more.