Obese women who gain a lot of weight during pregnancy run a greater risk of giving birth to abnormally large babies, which can cause delivery complications.
That’s the finding of researchers from the Boston University School of Public Health who found pre-pregnancy obesity and excess weight gain during pregnancy in African-American women are associated with an increased risk of “macrosomia,” defined as a newborn weighing more than 8.8 pounds at birth.
The study, published online in the journal Obesity, involved an analysis of medical charts from 59,000 women participating in the Black Women's Health Study.
"In addition to maintaining a healthy weight and waistline before pregnancy, our data suggest that it is especially important for obese women to adhere to the [recommended] guidelines for pregnancy weight gain to reduce their risk of macrosomia," said reseracher Lauren A. Wise, an associate professor of epidemiology at BUSPH.
Researchers noted having large newborns can cause delivery complications such as hemorrhage, infection, the need for a caesarean section, preeclampsia, and increase the odds of infant death.
For the study, investigators compared mothers of 691 full term infants weighing more than 8.8 pounds with mothers of 5,996 full-term infants weighing less. The results showed overall obesity — before and during pregnancy — was associated with a two-fold increased risk of macrosomia.
The study was funded, in part, by the National Institutes of Health.
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