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Obesity Increases Risk of Pregnancy Complications

Providers should educate women on benefits of weight loss prior to conception

THURSDAY, Dec. 8 (HealthDay News) -- Obese women have up to a fivefold higher risk of maternal complications, including hypertension and wound infection, compared with normal-weight women, according to a study published in the December issue of Obstetrics & Gynecology.

Heather Robinson, M.D., of Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia, and colleagues conducted a 15-year population-based cohort study of 142,404 singleton pregnancies. They identified 10,134 (7.2%) of the mothers as obese (moderate obesity 92.3%, severe obesity 7.7%) and determined that the proportion of women in the obese categories increased from 3.2% in 1988 to 10.2% in 2002.

The researchers found that moderately obese and severely obese women had an increased risk of pregnancy-induced hypertension (odds ratio, 2.38, 3.0, respectively), antepartum venous thromboembolism (OR 2.17, 4.13, respectively), labor induction (OR 1.94, 2.77, respectively), Caesarean delivery (OR 1.60, 2.46, respectively) and wound infection (OR 1.67, 4.79, respectively) compared to non-obese women. Severely obese women also had an increased risk of anesthesia complications (OR 2.01).

"Obese women considering pregnancy should be informed of the risks that maternal obesity confers on a pregnancy," the authors conclude. "Health care professionals need to encourage and assist obese women to make lifestyle changes to lose weight preconceptually in an attempt to optimize pregnancy outcomes and potentially decrease the risk of complications in pregnancy."

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