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Obesity before Pregnancy has a Strong link to Premature Birth

By  ,  Onlymyhealth editorial team
Jun 26, 2014
4.8 / 5(4 Ratings)

Researchers from the Stanford University School of Medicine have claimed that those women, who are obese before they get pregnant, are at an increased risk of delivering premature baby. These findings hold clue to all the trigger factors of extremely preterm births, especially those that happen before 28 weeks of pregnancy.

obesity and premature birthThe study did not find any link between maternal obesity and premature births that happen between 28 and 37 weeks of normal 40-week gestation period. Gary Shaw, DrPH, professor of pediatrics and lead author of the study said that until now, people have been thinking about preterm birth as one condition by simply defining it as any birth that happensat least three weeks early. He also added that it is not as simple as what is aid about it. Preterm birth is one construct; the gestational age matters a lot.


The study examined nearly all the California births that happened between January 2007 and December 2009; this made it the largest study ever to look for population-based links between maternal obesity as well as prematurity.


So as to focus on spontaneous preterm birth, the researchers excluded from analysis those women who were pregnant with twins or other multiples as well as those women who had illnesses previously that could be linked to premature birth such as diabetes, preeclampsia and high blood pressure. Once these women were excluded, the researchers had 989, 697 births to analyse. The births were classified by gestational age and several other factors about the mother were considered in the analysis including the race/ethnicity, body mass index, educational attainment, first-time mothers, when prenatal care began, maternal age, source of health insurance and maternal height.

For the first time, obesity was seen to be linked with an increase in the risk of delivery before 28 weeks of pregnancy. The risk was seen to be highest at the earliest gestational ages as well as at the highest levels of obesity.

Obese women who were having their second or later child were also more likely to deliver very early compared with women of normal weight, though the risk was much less pronounced compared with the first-time mothers.


The study has been published in the journal Pediatric and Perinatal Epidemiology.


Article source: Times of India
Image source: Getty
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