Does Obesity Increase Risk of Miscarriage?

Patient Expert

Causes of Miscarriage

Spontaneous miscarriage effects about twelve to fifteen percent of all pregnancies. Eighty percent of miscarriages occur prior to the twelfth week of gestation and most are the result of chromosomal abnormalities.

Other causes of miscarriage are: collagen vascular diseases in which a person's immune system attacks their organs, hormonal factors including Cushing's Syndrome, thyroid disease, diabetes, polycystic ovary syndrome, infections, and abnormal anatomy of the uterus.

The above mentioned factors are clearly causes for miscarriage and clearly risk factors. What is less clear is what risk factors among the many are absolutely a cause of miscarriage as opposed to those that have only a statistical association. While there is an association between obesity and miscarriage and while obesity is recognized as a risk factor for miscarriage, it remains unclear as to whether or not obesity is an actual cause for miscarriage.

Even though it cannot be maintained with certainty that obesity is a direct cause for miscarriage, research results are mounting and pointing in favor of a cause and effect relationship.

The  Link Between Obesity and Miscarriage

A study conducted at Newcastle University in the United Kingdom discovered that maternal obesity can put the baby at double the risk of death prior to delivery and for up to one year after birth. It was also noted that if the expectant mother has a body mass index greater than thirty (BMI >30) then the possibility of a baby dying prior to birth is sixteen of every thousand.

The study also stated that one of the reasons for the high rate of death was preclampsia, a disease associated with high blood pressure and protein in the urine of obese women who are pregnant.

A second study conducted at London's St. Mary's Hospital focused on women who had miscarriages that were classified as unexplained. It was discovered that the chances for another miscarriage elevated to 73% if the woman was obese.

In addition:

  • Women who are overweight have a 29% greater chance for miscarriage then women who are normal weight* Women who are obese have a** 67% greater chance for miscarriage** then women who are normal weight* Women who have a body mass index over 35 have a** 119% greater chance for miscarriage** then women who are normal weight* Obese women who are undergoing assisted reproduction have a** 1430% greater chance for miscarriage** then normal weight women* Obesity** more than doubles the chance for stillbirth** or neonatal death** Cautions and Preventions**

It is a decidedly bad idea for a woman to diet once she becomes pregnant. Women who are overweight and become pregnant should anticipate a weight gain of fifteen to twenty-five pounds. Pregnant and overweight women can consider nutritional counseling, light exercise, and early screenings for gestational diabetes but all options should first be discussed with a medical professional.

What to read next: Preparing for Pregnancy After Gastric Bypass Surgery** References:**
About.com - http://miscarriage.about.com/od/endocrinefactors/i/obesity.htm  - accessed 8/14/12
MedicineNet.com - http://www.medicinenet.com/miscarriage/page2.htm#what_causes_a_miscarriage_and_what_are_the_tests_for_the_different_causes  - accessed 8/14/12
Oxford Journals - http://humrep.oxfordjournals.org/content/19/7/1644.full  - accessed 8/14/12
StaedyHealth.com - http://www.steadyhealth.com/Obesity_raises_miscarriage_risk_t183142.html  - accessed 8/14/12
Top News - http://topnews.us/content/238254-obesity-woman-can-lead-miscarriage  - accessed 8/14/12

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