A growing number of women are overweight or obese when they become pregnant, a condition that is risky to both mother and baby, a study by researchers at the University at Buffalo (N.Y.) has shown.
An analysis of the prepregnancy body mass index of more than 79,000 women who became pregnant between 1999-2003 found that the number who were overweight when they became pregnant increased by 11% and the number who were obese increased by eight percent over that time period. There was a corresponding decrease in the percentage of women who were normal weight or underweight in the prepregnancy period over those five years. The shift applied regardless of age, ethnicity (black or white), education level, type of insurance, previous live births, urbanization status, median family income, and whether or not they smoke.
"Cumulatively, 40.5% of all patients had prepregnancy BMIs in the overweight and obese categories in 2003 compared with 37.1% in 1999," notes John Yeh, professor and chair of the Department of Gynecology-Obstetrics. "This increase in obesity is important to the obstetrician and the patient because obesity can be a high-risk situation in a pregnant woman. Obese patients who become pregnant are at increased risk of developing gestational diabetes, pregnancy-related hypertension, preeclampsia, neonatal death, and labor complications."
A breakdown of data showed that 75% of the women were between the ages of 20-34; 80% were white; 55% had more than a high school education; and 58% had HMOs as their insurance carrier. It was the first live birth for 39%; 64% lived in urban areas; and...