Women who are clinically obese before getting pregnant face much greater odds of having a C-section deliveries, a new study shows.
Researchers from Norway found that women with a pre-pregnancy body mass index of 40 — well above the BMI of 25-29.9 that designates overweight individuals — had an increased risk of vacuum extraction delivery or C-section.
The findings, reported in the medical journal Acta Obstetricia et Gynecologica Scandinavica, also indicated women who gain more than 30 pounds during pregnancy increase their risk for deliveries involving the use of forceps or vacuum extraction, and C-section.
"Our study examines pre-pregnancy BMI and gestational weight gain on the mothers' risk of operative delivery," noted lead researcher Nils-Halvdan Morken, M.D., from the University of Bergen in Norway. "With such alarming rates of obesity understanding its impact is an important health issue, particularly for women in child-bearing years."
The World Health Organization estimates 1.4 billion adults are overweight and more than a half-billion are considered obese. About one-third of U.S. adults are considered obese, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
For the new study, researchers tracked medical records of more than 50,000 women who gave birth in Norway between 1999 and 2008. The results showed that women who were overweight and obese before pregnancy — or gained more than 30 pounds while pregnant — were at increased risk for forcep use, vacuum extraction, and C-section deliveries.
"Obesity and weight gain above [30 pounds] during pregnancy are independent risk factors for vacuum extraction delivery and need for C-section,” Dr. Morken noted. “While other factors may contribute to operative delivery and further investigation of gestational weight gain is warranted, it is important obstetricians be aware of the impact of a high BMI on pregnancy and delivery to properly advise women considering motherhood."
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