Loss of nutrients following gastric bypass surgery in adolescent girls

October 3, 2010, American Academy of Pediatrics

An increasing number of obese adolescents, particularly females, are undergoing gastric bypass surgery. Yet a case study presented Sunday, Oct. 3, at the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) National Conference and Exhibition in San Francisco, highlights the possible link between gastric bypass surgery in adolescent girls and an increased risk for neural tube defects, which can lead to varying degrees of disability such as paralysis and mental retardation due to damage to the nervous system, in their future children.

Neural tube defects in the brain and can be due to nutritional deficiencies. The report, ": An Unforseen Consequence of Gastric Bypass Surgery in Young Female Patients?" reviewed the case of a young patient who had undergone gastric bypass surgery prior to becoming pregnant. She presented to the Fetal Treatment Center at UCSF Benioff Children's Hospital to discuss the possibility of fetal surgery as her fetus had spina bifida. A literature review found six additional documented cases of children born with neural tube defects thought to be due to maternal nutritional deficiencies, particularly malabsorption (when the body cannot absorb nutrients), following bypass surgery.

It is well documented that gastric bypass surgery leads to malabsorption causing multiple nutritional deficiencies, including folate (folic acid), which is a key element in the prevention of neural tube defects. Although daily folate replacement can reverse this deficiency, adolescents often don't comply with medication regimens.

This situation is especially critical because who have undergone gastric bypass surgery are at an increased risk of unintended pregnancies.

"We postulate that the malabsorption of folate, poor compliance with nutritional supplements and a higher risk of unintended pregnancies places young women at an increased risk for pregnancies complicated with neural tube defects," said senior study author Diana L. Farmer, MD.

"Although obesity is epidemic in this country, we believe non-reversible gastric bypass surgery should be avoided in adolescent women given the potential increased risk of fetal neural tube defects," Farmer said. "If gastric bypass is performed on an adolescent female, great efforts must be made to minimize the risks of both unintended pregnancies and nutritional deficiencies. This should include extensive pre-surgery counseling and frequent post-operative follow-up, as well as consideration of highly efficacious contraceptives such as an intra-uterine device."

Related Stories

Recommended for you

Creation of synthetic horsepox virus could lead to more effective smallpox vaccine

January 19, 2018
UAlberta researchers created a new synthetic virus that could lead to the development of a more effective vaccine against smallpox. The discovery demonstrates how techniques based on the use of synthetic DNA can be used to ...

Study ends debate over role of steroids in treating septic shock

January 19, 2018
The results from the largest ever study of septic shock could improve treatment for critically ill patients and save health systems worldwide hundreds of millions of dollars each year.

New approach could help curtail hospitalizations due to influenza infection

January 18, 2018
More than 700,000 Americans were hospitalized due to illnesses associated with the seasonal flu during the 2014-15 flu season, according to federal estimates. A radical new approach to vaccine development at UCLA may help ...

Flu may be spread just by breathing, new study shows; coughing and sneezing not required

January 18, 2018
It is easier to spread the influenza virus (flu) than previously thought, according to a new University of Maryland-led study released today. People commonly believe that they can catch the flu by exposure to droplets from ...

Zika virus damages placenta, which may explain malformed babies

January 18, 2018
Though the Zika virus is widely known for a recent outbreak that caused children to be born with microencephaly, or having a small head, and other malformations, scientists have struggled to explain how the virus affects ...

Certain flu virus mutations may compensate for fitness costs of other mutations

January 18, 2018
Seasonal flu viruses continually undergo mutations that help them evade the human immune system, but some of these mutations can reduce a virus's potency. According to new research published in PLOS Pathogens, certain mutations ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.