Maternal Obesity and the Link to Stillbirth

My Bariatric Life Health Guide

    My husband and I recently toured the historic Crown Hill Cemetary in Indianapolis, Indiana. Putting aside for a quick moment the normal content of My Bariatric Life, I enthusiactically recommend this tour. Many notables are buiried in the park-like atmosphere of the grounds. Among them is the final resting place of bankrobber John Dillinger. 


    There are a number of ornate burial sites, some extravagent and others a bit more relaxed. One that stood out for me was a gravestone with an image of Donald Duck to commemorate the fondness had for him by the child who was buried there.

    On another burial was a statue of the seven-year-old who was buried beneath. It was all very sad, as is the loss of any loved one, although losing a child is an especially painful sting. If we could take back some behavior or action that might have contributed to such misery, I think we would do so without hesitation. 

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    We can do better. We can erase harm before it even begins and change the course of a potential staggering outcome.


    High BMI During Pregnancy and the Risk of Stillbirth

    The sad news from 2009 was that there were 2.6 million third-trimester stillbirths worldwide. Equally sad is the news that about 3.6 million infant deaths occur each year within 23 days of the birth. A new study that was done at Imperial College London shows that the mother's body mass index may be contributing factor.


    Pregnant women who are either obese or overweight not only run an increased risk of delivering a stillborn baby, but even show a modest increase in the risk for fetal death and infant death. 


    Researchers note that there are about 76 stillbirths per 10,000 women of normal weight. The numbers increased to 82 stillbirths for women with body mass index of 25 (overweight) and to 102 for women with a body mass index of 30 (obese). Those women with a BMI of 40 or above had a rate of infant death that was two to three times higher than women with a BMI of 20. Overall, there was a 20% increased risk for stillbirth for every additional 5 points of BMI.     


    It is already known that obesity is associated with complications that can lead to an unhealthy fetus. Women who are obese have a higher risk for having infants with birth defects. In addition, women who are obese have diabetes or hypertension more often than non-obese women. These maladies may promote early deliveries that result in the loss of the infant.     


    Higher BMIs also have been linked to pregnancy complications such as preclampsia, macrosomia or oversized fetus, and congenital anomolies, all of which can lead to higher risks of stillbirths or infant deaths. It is also noted that thinner women may be more adapt at noticing a decrease in the fetal movement thay may precede fetal deaths.    


    The study included informatin on more than 10,147 fetal deaths, 16,274 stillbirths, 4,311 perinatal deaths, 11,294 neonatal deaths, and 4,983 infant deaths.


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    My Bariatric Life


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Published On: August 01, 2014