Risks Associated with Obesity During Pregnancy

My Bariatric Life Health Guide
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    Obesity During Pregnancy

    A recent Swedish study suggests that women who are obese during pregnancy run the risk of giving birth prematurely. Not only that, but the study further suggest that obesity during pregnancy may lead to extremely premature births between 22 to 27 weeks. It also was discovered that the more obese a woman was, the greater the possibility of preterm birth. Obesity during pregnancy puts both the mother and child at risk for health problems.

    The study shows an association between obesity and premature births, but does not prove causation although the results do coordinate with prior studies that have established the same link.

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    Premature Births

    The study inspected information from over 1.5 million births in Sweden between 1992 and 2010 and found that about 5% of the babies were born prematurely. Of those, 0.47% were born very premature and another 0.23% were born extremely premature.

    Extremely premature births occurred in 0.17% of normal weight women, 0.21% of overweight women, 0.27% of mildly obese women, 0.35% of severely obese women, and 0.52% of extremely obese women.

    Considering the high mortality rate among extremely preterm babies, such numbers are significant.

    In the United States,  preterm deliveries are twice the number in Sweden. Twenty-six percent of women giving birth to premature infants in the U.S. are overweight and another 27.4 percent are obese. Of the 0.60 percent of all live single births that were extremely premature in 2008, 25 percent of all infant singleton deaths were within this group. 

    Risks for Mother and Baby Due to Obesity During Pregnancy

    Risk factors increase for both mother and baby if a mother is obese over the course of her pregnancy.

    Mothers can experience high blood pressure during the second half of pregnancy that can lead to complications. In addition, high blood glucose levels may present during pregnancy and lead to the risk of giving birth to a larger than normal baby. High sugar levels, or gestational diabetes, increases the risk of having diabetes in the future for both the mother and the child. 

    Preeclampsia is an illness that can effect the mother and the infant. The kidneys and liver may fail and, in rare instances, stroke may occur.

    Potential problems for the infant are increased risk for birth defects, such as heart defects. Ultrasound exams may become more difficult whereas increased body fat makes it more challenging to see particular problems with the baby’s anatomy.

    Finally, the higher the mother’s body mass index, the greater the potential
    for stillbirth.

    One Last Thought

    Although the percentages for a premature birth due to a mother’s obesity during pregnancy may not cause alarm, they are real. Reality can effect any person at any time, and the consequences can very well be permanent.

    Preterm birth is a serious matter that can result in a child having breathing problems, eating problems, and developmental and learning problems at some future point.

  • Take some time to think about it for both you and your baby.  

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Published On: January 01, 2014