Overweight and obese women at higher risk of adverse neonatal and maternal outcomes

March 26, 2013, Wiley

Overweight and obese women are more likely to require specialist medical care during their pregnancy due to the increased risk of adverse neonatal and maternal outcomes, finds a new study published today (27 March) in BJOG: An International Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology.

The study, carried out by a team from Queen's University Belfast and Belfast Health and Social Care Trust, found that maternal obesity has significant contributing to increased morbidity and mortality for both mother and baby. With worldwide having doubled over the past 30 years, the rate of obese pregnant women is also increasing.

This study categorised women according to the (WHO) (BMI) classifications. The categories included women who were underweight (BMI <18.5), (BMI 18.5-24.9), overweight (BMI 25-39), and three obese sub-categories including obese class I (BMI 30-34.9), obese class II (BMI 35-39.9) and obese class III (BMI >40).

It looked at the impact of BMI on maternal and neonatal outcomes in 30,298 singleton pregnancies, from a referral unit in Northern Ireland, in the UK over an 8 year period (2004-2011). Within this cohort, 2.8% of women were categorised as underweight, 52.5% normal weight, 27.8% overweight, 11% obese class I, 3.9% obese class II and 1.9% obese class III.

Results showed that, when compared to normal weight women, women in the overweight and obese class I category had an increased risk of hypertensive disorders, , induction of labour, , post-partum haemorrhage and macrosomia (large birthweight baby), with all risks significantly increasing for obese class II and III women. For example, women in obese class III were four times more likely to develop gestational diabetes compared to normal weight women.

Furthermore, women in obese class III were identified to be at the most risk of additional adverse outcomes including having a , a newborn requiring neonatal admission, and stillbirth, which was three times more likely among these women.

In overweight and there was also an increased likelihood of postnatal problems, such as unsuccessful breastfeeding, which has also shown to increase the risk for long-term health implications for both mother and baby in relation to obesity.

Conversely, underweight women were at an increased risk of anaemia and were more likely to have a low birthweight baby, when compared to normal weight women.

Dr Valerie Holmes, Centre for Public Health, Queen's University Belfast and co-author of the study, said:

"This large-scale study clearly demonstrates that being overweight or obese during pregnancy increases the risk of adverse maternal and neonatal outcomes.

"By having obesity in sub-classifications, we were able to highlight the relationship between increasing BMI and the increasing risk of adverse outcomes, with women most at risk in obese class III requiring specialist medical care during pregnancy."

Dale Spence, School of Nursing and Midwifery, Queen's University Belfast and co-author of the study, added:

"We found that the majority of overweight women fall into the overweight or obese class I categories and while they are still at an increased risk of gestational diabetes and hypertensive disorders in pregnancy, they may not be offered the same level of specialist care under current guidelines."

Mike March, BJOG Deputy-Editor-in-Chief, said:

"We know that maternal obesity has significant health implications including an increased risk of developing pregnancy-related disorders, poorer labour outcomes and adverse neonatal health.

"This study further shows the relationship between obesity and these adverse outcomes by linking rising BMI with the likelihood of adverse maternal and associated with pregnancy.

"Further research is needed to optimise management for overweight and obese during pregnancy."

Explore further: Overweight moms with moderately high blood sugar raise health risk

More information: Scott-Pillai R, Spence D, Cardwell CR, Hunter A, Holmes VA. The impact of body mass index on maternal and neonatal outcomes: A retrospective study in UK Obstetric population. BJOG 2013 dx.doi.org/10.1111/1471-0528.12193

Related Stories

Overweight moms with moderately high blood sugar raise health risk

April 11, 2012
Pregnant women who are overweight with moderately elevated blood sugar never set off any alarms for their physicians. The big concern was for women who were obese or who had gestational diabetes because those conditions are ...

Obesity and extreme slimness cause risks in pregnancy

April 19, 2012
Obese women run the risk of problems during pregnancy, labour and complications for the baby's health. A new study of more than 3000 expectant mothers confirms this, and also reveals that being underweight also has specific ...

Maternal obesity increases risk of newborn death in sub-Saharan Africa where obesity is rising at alarming rate

August 8, 2012
"Sub-Saharan Africa already has the highest rates of neonatal death in the world. Whilst overall levels of obesity are currently fairly low by global standards, obesity is actually a rapidly emerging problem, with 5% of women ...

Gestational diabetes, obesity impact pregnancy outcomes

March 2, 2012
(HealthDay) -- Women with gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM) who are obese have significantly higher odds of adverse pregnancy outcomes, according to findings from the multinational Hyperglycemia and Adverse Pregnancy Outcome ...

Recommended for you

Rise in preterm births linked to clinical intervention

January 18, 2018
Research at the University of Adelaide shows preterm births in South Australia have increased by 40 percent over 28 years and early intervention by medical professionals has resulted in the majority of the increase.

New report calls into question effectiveness of pregnancy anti-nausea drug

January 17, 2018
Previously unpublished information from the clinical trial that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration relied on to approve the most commonly prescribed medicine for nausea in pregnancy indicates the drug is not effective, ...

New study finds 'baby brain' is real, but the cause remains mysterious

January 15, 2018
So-called "baby brain" refers to increased forgetfulness, inattention, and mental "fogginess" reported by four out of five pregnant women. These changes in brain function during pregnancy have long been recognised in midwifery ...

Sleep quality improves with help of incontinence drug

January 12, 2018
A drug used to curtail episodes of urinary incontinence in women also improves quality of sleep, a researcher at the Stanford University School of Medicine reports.

Frozen embryos result in just as many live births in IVF

January 10, 2018
Freezing and subsequent transfer of embryos gives infertile couples just as much of a chance of having a child as using fresh embryos for in vitro fertilization (IVF), research from Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, and Adelaide, ...

Study suggests air pollution breathed in the months before and after conception increases chance of birth defects

January 8, 2018
A team of researchers with the University of Cincinnati and Cincinnati Children's Hospital has found evidence that indicates that pre-and post-pregnant women living in an area with air pollution are at an increased risk of ...

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.