Obese Moms and Birth Defects Linked
By Vivian Richardson, Ivanhoe Health Correspondent
ORLANDO, Fla. (Ivanhoe Newswire) -- The results of a new study may
give doctors one more reason to encourage obese women to lose weight
before getting pregnant. Babies born with structural birth defects,
like heart defects or missing limbs, are more likely to have a mother
who is obese.
Researchers from the University of Texas in Houston compared the
height and weight of nearly 15,000 women. Mothers of babies with
certain kinds of birth defects were more likely to be obese, meaning
they had a body mass index (BMI) higher than 30.
"Our study supports previous evidence, as well as provides new
evidence, for the associations between maternal obesity and particular
categories of birth defects," the study authors wrote. The birth
defects linked to obese moms included Spina Bifida, heart
malformations, defects of the anal opening and penis, diaphragmatic
hernia, small or missing limbs, and intestines protruding through the
Study authors report they are not sure what is causing the link, though undiagnosed diabetes is one theory.
The findings do not surprise Robert Atlas, M.D., Chair of the
Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Mercy Medical Center in
"This is a huge medical problem that we're seeing, and it's not
going away; it's only getting worse," Dr. Atlas said. Overweight and
obese mothers have become part of the norm in his practice, he
explained. Women in these categories are at increased risk of several
complications, including diabetes and unplanned Caesarian sections.
"The great majority of [obese] women do just fine. That doesn't mean
it's OK," said Dr. Atlas. He recommends obese women try to get their
BMI into the overweight range, 25 to 30, if getting to the normal
range, 18 to 24, is not feasible.
SOURCE: Ivanhoe interview with Robert Atlas, M.D.; Archives of Pediatric & Adolescent Medicine, 2007;161:745-750
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