Pregnant women who are obese, defined as a weight of more than 200 pounds, have an elevated risk of health problems both to themselves and their babies. And, the incidence of obesity among pregnant women in the United States is increasing, according to a recent study.
The rise in maternal obesity, which reflects the rise in U.S. obesity levels overall, is a significant public health concern because of the many associated risks it poses. One such risk found among moderately obese women was an increased risk for preeclampsia, a high-blood pressure condition that can cause extreme swelling in the mother’s face and hands, and is associated with an increased risk of health problems to the newborn. The condition can also progress to eclampsia, which involves seizures during and after childbirth that can be life-threatening.
An increased risk of having to deliver by cesarean section, delivering an abnormally large child, carrying their child for longer than usual, and diabetes were also noted in the study among obese pregnant women. Obesity during pregnancy is also attended by other complications including:
Increased rates of hypertensive disease and infections
- Higher rates of blood clots and respiratory complications
- Independent risk factor for neural tube defects, fetal mortality and preterm delivery
- Increased risk for having a child who may have an increased risk of subsequent childhood obesity and its associated morbidity
Even mild forms of obesity pose a risk, researchers say. One way to avoid these risks is by controlling weight while not pregnant. While it is commonly taught that weight-loss during pregnancy is bad for the fetus, researchers now believe that starting a weight-loss program during pregnancy may be beneficial..