Weight Loss Surgery Reduces Pregnancy Problems
Obese Women Who Have Weight Loss Surgery Prior to Pregnancy Have Fewer Complications, Study Shows
April 14, 2010 -- Weight loss surgery prior to pregnancy may help prevent
pregnancy complications for obese women.
Obese women are much more likely to develop complications during pregnancy,
such as high blood pressure, or preeclampsia, which raises the risk of
premature birth and infant death.
In a new study, researchers found that obese women who had weight loss
surgery prior to becoming pregnant were 75% less likely to have pregnancy
complications related to high blood pressure than women who had the surgery
Researchers say about a third of women of reproductive age in the U.S. are
obese, defined as having a body mass index (BMI, a measurement of weight in
relation to height) over 30, and 6%-8% are morbidly obese, with a BMI over
For many of these women, weight loss surgery, such as gastric bypass, is an
effective weight loss option. But researchers say little is known about the
impact of weight loss surgery on the risk of pregnancy complications.
In the study, published in British Medical Journal, researchers
compared the risk of high blood pressure-related pregnancy complications in 585
obese women aged 16-45 who had weight loss surgery before or after pregnancy
from 2002 to 2006.
Of these women, 269 had weight loss surgery before delivery and 316 had the
surgery after delivery. Gastric bypass was the weight loss surgery choice for
the majority (82%) of the women.
The results showed that nearly 15% of women who delivered before weight loss
surgery had preeclampsia or eclampsia (the final stage of preclampsia if left
untreated) compared to about 3% of women who had the surgery before
Overall, obese women who had weight loss surgery before pregnancy were 80%
less likely to develop preeclampsia and eclampsia during pregnancy, and the
risk of other blood pressure-related complications was also lower.
These lower rates of pregnancy complications were still evident after
adjusting for the mother’s age at delivery, multiple pregnancy (twins or more),
type of weight loss surgery, pre-existing diabetes, and type of health
Researcher Wendy L. Bennett, assistant professor at the Johns Hopkins
University School of Medicine, and colleagues say the results suggest that
weight loss surgery should be considered for women of childbearing age with a
BMI of 40 or more or a BMI of 35 or more with associated health problems.
In addition, they say more study is needed to examine long-term maternal and
child health after pregnancies and deliveries following weight loss