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Is birth weight the major confounding factor in the study of gestational weight gain?: an observational cohort study.Much interest has been focussed on both maternal obesity and gestational weight gain (GWG), particularly on their role in influencing birth weight (BW). Several large reviews have reported that excessive GWG is associated with an increase in BW Women were enrolled at their convenience before 18 weeks gestation. Height and weight were measured accurately at the first antenatal visit and BMI calculated. Maternal weight was measured again after 37 weeks gestation. The weight of the baby was measured at birth. Relationships were tested using linear regression analysis, chi-squared tests and t-tests as appropriate. Of the 522 women studied, the mean BMI was 25.3 kg/m The positive correlation between GWG in pregnancy and BW can be accounted for by the contribution of fetal weight to GWG antenatally without a contribution from increased maternal adiposity. There was a wide range of BW irrespective of the degree of GWG and obese women had a lower GWG than non-obese women. These findings help explain why Randomized Controlled Trials (RCTs) designed to reduce GWG have failed to decrease BW and suggest there is no causative link between excessive GWG and increased BW.