Maternal Obesity May Increase the Risk of Serious Birth Defects

Maternal Obesity May Increase the Risk of Serious Birth Defects

Highlights
  • The team examined data from more 1.2 million births registered in Sweden
  • More than 43,500 children suffered serious malformations
  • The risk rose to 3.5% for children of overweight women
Being overweight or obese during pregnancy can cause several complications. It puts the mother at risk of developing diabetes and high blood pressure and may even lead to several serious health problems for the newborn. According to a new study, The BMJ medical journal, mother's obesity can out the foetus at the risk of developing major birth defects such as malformations of the heart and genitals.

According to the researchers, the number of women above the age of 18 classified as severely obese, has doubled from 50 million to 100 million in the last 10 years. If these trends continue, one in five women will be obese by 2025. Obesity and being overweight can be differentiated on the basis of the Body Mass Index (BMI). BMI is the measure of the body fat based on the height and weight of an individual. It can be used as screening tool to determine an approximate measure of whether someone is over- or underweight. It is measured on a scale of hundred.
As per the World Health Organisation, a BMI of 18.5-24.9 is considered normal, 25-29.9 is overweight, 30-34.9 will be moderately obese, 35-39.9 is severely obese, and anything over 40 is morbidly obese. For the study, the team examined data from more 1.2 million births registered in Sweden between 2001 and 2014.
 
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Obesity can increase the risk of heart or genital birth defects in the newborn

They collected information about children born with major birth defects and compared it to the BMI of the mothers at the time of birth. It was noted that more than 43,500 children suffered serious malformations and the most common one was a heart defect. The results of the study showed that for babies born to mothers with normal weight as well as those who were underweight, the rate of congenital malformation was about 3.4%. The risk rose to 3.5% for children of overweight women, 3.8% for obese ones, 4.2% in the severely obese category and 4.7% for morbidly obese mothers. Interestingly, it was also seen that the risk was higher for boys than for girls.

These findings took into consideration potential risk factors such as maternal smoking, drinking, socio-economic status, diabetes, the use anti-epileptic drugs, and vitamin deficiencies. The study indicates that women should have a healthy BMI and aim for losing acquiring normal body weight before they decide to conceive for a healthy pregnancy and the health of their child. 

Inputs from AFP

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Tags:  Pregnancy, Obesity
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