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Estimation of pre-pregnancy weight is difficult because measurements taken before pregnancy are rarely available. No studies have compared various 'proxy' measures using recalled weight or based on early pregnancy weight with actual measurements of pre-pregnancy weight. The Southampton Women's Survey recruited women during 1998-2002 who were not pregnant. Data on 198 women with an estimated date of conception within 3 months of recruitment were analysed. Three proxy measures were considered: (1) recalled pre-pregnancy weight obtained during early pregnancy, (2) measured weight in early pregnancy and (3) estimated pre-pregnancy weight using a published model. Mean (standard deviation) recalled weight was 1.65 (3.03) kg lighter than measured pre-pregnancy weight, while early pregnancy weight and weights from the published model were 0.88 (2.34) and 0.88 (2.33) kg heavier, respectively. The Bland-Altman limits of agreement for recalled weight were -7.59 to 4.29 kg, wider than those for the early pregnancy weight: -3.71 to 5.47 kg and the published model: -3.68 to 5.45 kg. For estimating pre-pregnancy weight, we recommend subtraction of 0.88 kg from early pregnancy weight or the published model, or addition of 1.65 kg to recalled weight. Estimates of pre-pregnancy body mass index and gestational weight gain categories were very similar when using early pregnancy and published model weights, but they differed from those using recalled weight. Our findings indicate that calculations of first trimester weight gain using recalled weight must be treated cautiously, and a measured weight in early pregnancy provides a more precise assessment of pre-pregnancy weight than recalled weight.

Original publication




Journal article


J dev orig health dis

Publication Date



1 - 9


Bland–Altman, Preconception, longitudinal, obstetrics, pregnancy, weight