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Maternal Obesity Increase Risk Of Complications During Pregnancy

First Posted: Jun 03, 2015 05:34 PM EDT

Women who are obese during pregnancy are at an increased risk of various health issue, according to recent findings published in the journal Obesity Reviews.

Researchers at the School of Nursing and Midwifery, Trinity College Dublin, the University of Gothenberg and City University London discovered that maternal obesity is linked to a range of health issues including pre-term birth, large-for-gestional-age babies, fetal defects, congenital abnormalities and perinatal death.

Health officials recommend that women with obesity first lose weight before becoming pregnant. However, global rates currently show that maternal obesity has reached epic proportions with women aged 20-39 years in the US at 31.9 percent while the European average is 30-37 percent. Maternal obesity is defined as having a BMI of 30 kg/m2 or over when starting pregnancy, compared to the healthy weight category of between 18.5 and 24.9 kg/m2.

"Up to 1 in 5 pregnant women in Ireland suffer from obesity, a serious health problem that is not currently being adequately addressed and that can have significant implications for both them and their babies. However, it is important not to stigmatise women because of their weight. We need to provide pre-conceptual health education, through national subsidised programmes, to support and encourage women with a high BMI to lose weight before they conceive. The benefits for them and their babies can be significant."

To determine just what the risks for obese pregnant women involved, researchers produced a systematic overview of 22 systematic reviews that looked at a total of 573 research studies, meanwhile comparing the outcomes of pregnant women with obesity and those of health weight. This has resulted in an exhaustive and extensive review of the true risks associated with maternal obesity in terms of mother and baby outcomes, including physical and mental health.

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