Why Obesity and Being Overweight is Harmful in Pregnancy

Published:August 14th, 2010

When a woman is overweight or obese during pregnancy, she is increasing her risk for delivering a preterm baby (or giving birth before reaching a complete full term of 9 months). Results and other details of this important finding are published in the British Medical Journal. Obese and overweight women are strongly recommended to undergo counseling before even considering pregnancy as this will stress the need for strict monitoring once pregnancy sets in.

Obesity and weight gain is just one of the most common pregnancy complications that will not affect the mother, but largely the baby. Statistics report that in the UK alone, about 33% of pregnant women are either overweight or obese. China reports about 16% of obese or overweight pregnancies, while India reports about 26%.

What is likely to happen? Most of the time, it’s either a preterm birth, low birth weight, which can be a leading cause of infant illness throughout childhood or even infant death. The weight of the mother is directly proportionate to the risk of preterm birth; very obese women were reported to have a very high risk compared to normal weight women. Researchers also highlighted the fact that maternal obesity or overweight does not protect the baby from a low birth weight and other complications the infant may suffer from all throughout childhood.

It is therefore important to undergo counseling before pregnancy, the researchers emphasize. This is to inform them of all the risks during pregnancy and what the excessive weight can do for the baby, and it is therefore essential to shed off those excess pounds if a mother wants to steer clear of pregnancy and infant complications due to obesity and excessive weight. Normal weight women are, most of the time, spared from these complications if they are able to maintain their weight at normal levels before and during pregnancy.

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