Adipose tissue volume (ATV; total, subcutaneous, and nonsubcutaneous) was assessed by magnetic resonance imaging in the whole body and in six body compartments of 15 healthy Swedish women before pregnancy and 5-10 d, and 2, 6, and 12 mo postpartum. ATV increased by 5.43 +/- 4.72 L (mean +/- SD) during pregnancy and decreased by 3.18 +/- 4.61 L during the first 6 mo postpartum. The women had more ATV (2.86 +/- 2.32 L) 12 mo after delivery than before pregnancy. Of the ATV gained during pregnancy, 76% was placed subcutaneously and the decrease postpartum was due to a loss of subcutaneous ATV. During pregnancy, 68% of the increased ATV was placed in the trunk and 16% in the thighs. Postpartum fat was mobilized more completely from the thighs than from the trunk. For all variables studied variations between women were large. The results also show that women with a high weight gain during pregnancy retain lean tissue in their bodies.
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