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Maternal Obesity Ups Early Neonatal Mortality in Africa

For obese mothers in sub-Saharan Africa, higher risk of neonatal death in the first two days of life

Maternal Obesity Ups Early Neonatal Mortality in Africa

THURSDAY, Aug. 9 (HealthDay News) -- For women in sub-Saharan Africa, maternal obesity correlates with increased risk of early neonatal mortality, according to a study published online Aug. 9 in The Lancet.

Jenny A. Cresswell, Ph.D., from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, and colleagues examined whether maternal obesity is a risk factor for neonatal death in sub-Saharan Africa using pooled data from cross-sectional Demographic and Health Surveys from 27 sub-Saharan countries (2003 to 2009).

The researchers found that, of the 81,126 eligible women, 15,518 were overweight, 4,266 were obese, 52,006 had an optimum body mass index, and 13,602 were underweight. After adjustment for confounding factors, maternal obesity correlated with an increased likelihood of neonatal death (adjusted odds ratio [aOR], 1.46). Maternal obesity was found to be a significant risk factor for neonatal mortality within the first two days of life (aOR, 1.62), but there was no significant correlation later in the neonatal period (days two to six: aOR, 1.36; 95 percent confidence interval [CI], 0.84 to 2.21; days seven to 27: aOR, 1.19; 95 percent CI, 0.65 to 2.18).

"More robust longitudinal studies are needed to establish a causal relation between maternal obesity and neonatal deaths," the authors write. "If the association is confirmed, the public health implications are that obese women should be strongly advised to deliver in a health facility capable of providing prompt emergency obstetric and neonatal care."

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