When Should Military Moms Return to Duty?By
If a female soldier decides to have a child, how quickly will the
mother be ready to return to duty? Currently, women soldiers get 6
months after delivery to meet the periodic weight, body fat and
A study at the Childrens
Nutrition Research Center in Houston, Texas, aims to learn
exactly what women can expect from their bodies before, during and
after pregnancy. The Houston center is a cooperative venture of the
Service and Baylor
College of Medicine. The U.S. Department of Defense is funding
The findings should benefit not only military moms but all new
mothers concerned about staying fit after pregnancy. Nutritionist
Nancy Butte leads the Houston project, tracking calorie needs, body
composition and physical ability of 68 military and civilian women.
Specifically, the researchers are looking at how pregnancy affects
body protein, muscle strength and bone mass.
The military body weight standard is based on a persons body
mass index. But pre- pregnancy BMI is also a determinant of fetal
growth. A woman with a BMI of 19.8 or lower should gain more weight
than one with an average or high BMI. Researchers want to know if
these gains are in fat mass, free fat mass or water. There may be a
threshold for maternal fat below which fetal growth is compromised.
The study has already found that some military equations, based on
body circumference measurements, may underestimate fat mass.
Details are in a story in the April issue of ARS Agricultural
Research magazine. The story is also on the World Wide Web at:
Scientific contact: Nancy Butte,
Nutrition Research Center, Baylor College of Medicine, 1100
Bates St., Houston, Texas, phone (713) 798-7179, fax (713) 798-7187,