Weight Status Linked to Preterm Birth Among Those at Risk

Overweight/obese women less likely to give birth before 35 weeks' gestation than normal/underweight women

TUESDAY, Dec. 23 (HealthDay News) -- Obese and overweight women at risk for spontaneous preterm birth are significantly less likely than their normal weight and underweight counterparts to give birth before 35 weeks' gestation, according to study findings published in the January issue of Obstetrics & Gynecology.

Hugh M. Ehrenberg, M.D., of Ohio State University Medical Center in Columbus, and colleagues conducted a study of 253 women who were at risk of preterm birth due to prior history of spontaneous premature delivery or vaginal bleeding. The women were monitored using a uterine activity monitor twice a day from 22 weeks to 34 weeks of gestation. The contractions of the women were then analyzed according to their body mass index at six gestational intervals from 22 weeks onward.

There were 156 obese and overweight women in the cohort, and the risk of spontaneous preterm birth before 35 weeks' gestation among this group was substantially lower than it was for normal/underweight women, the investigators found -- only 8.3 percent compared to 21.7 percent, respectively. Obese and overweight women also had fewer and less frequent contractions, the study showed.

"Although lack of cervical shortening may play a role, further study will be needed to describe the influence of body habitus on parturition and to perhaps take advantage of whatever process is at work in future efforts to prevent spontaneous preterm birth," the authors write.

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