More U.S. Women Obese Before Pregnancy, Experts Sound the Alarm

From Drugs.com - January 4, 2018

More U.S. Women Obese Before Pregnancy, Experts Sound the Alarm

THURSDAY, Jan. 4, 2018 -- Prepregnancy weights continue to rise in the United States, with less than half of women at a healthy size before conception, U.S. health officials report.

Pregnancy experts fear this trend may threaten the health of mothers and their babies.

"As the American population increases in size, we are now seeing more and more women starting pregnancy at unhealthy weights," said Dr. Jennifer Wu, an ob-gyn at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City. "This poses risks for them during pregnancy, and it also increases risks for their babies."

And the health consequences will not end when the pregnancy ends, Wu added.

"Unfortunately, many of these women will gain too much during their pregnancies and will not lose their pregnancy weight," she said.

That's why intervention before conception matters so much, another women's health expert said.

"Screening body mass index [BMI], counseling and referral for treatment to optimize weight before pregnancy begins is absolutely key in order to begin to reverse this trend," said Dr. Jill Rabin, co-chief of the division of ambulatory care at Women's Health Programs-PCAP Services, part of Northwell Health in New Hyde Park, N.Y.

"Preconception care is a crucial and key time in a woman's medical health and life to begin to make a difference," Rabin added.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report, the percentage of women who were obese at the start of their pregnancy jumped 8 percent between 2011 and 2015.

And overweight rates at conception increased 2 percent during that same period.

Having a healthy baby means taking care of yourself before pregnancy, the researchers noted.

"Screening women's BMI during routine clinical care provides opportunities to promote normal weight before entering pregnancy," wrote researchers led by Nicholas Deputy. He's a postdoctoral fellow in the CDC's reproductive health division.

Rabin agreed.

"Preconception care [medical visits in advance of and between pregnancies] affords a unique opportunity to make a difference in maternal and fetal outcomes," she said.


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