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Obese Women Linked to Increasing Risks for Premature Babies

Update Date: Jun 12, 2013 10:06 AM EDT

Obesity is a global problem that afflicts several nations. Not only can obesity lead to several health complications for oneself, new studies have repeatedly tied obesity and its negative side effects on others. One study discovered that children of obese mothers tend to be obese as well, creating a cycle that appears to be very hard to break. In a newer study, one of the largest ones to date, Swedish researchers found that obese pregnant women have a higher risk of delivering an infant preterm, which could increase the baby's risk of health complications since the infant might not be fully developed.

The study analyzed the medical records of about 1.59 million births that took place between 1992 and 2010. The data came from the Swedish Medical Birth Register. The researchers focused on the mother's body mass indexes (BMI) recorded during different visits to the prenatal doctor, health risks, maternal diseases and any pregnancy complication symptoms. They found that the more premature a child was in terms of weeks, the higher the pregnant mother's BMI was. BMI measures body fat through weight and height. The researchers categorized the level of prematurity as extremely premature, which was from 22 to 27 weeks, very premature (28 to 31 weeks) and moderately premature (32 to 36 weeks). Births should ideally occur after 37 weeks.

"This just reinforces the fact that the complications of obesity and additional weight gain are deleterious to both mother and fetus," Dr. Raul Artal, a United States' expert said according to HealthDay. Artal is a professor and chairman of the department of obstetrics, gynecology and women's health at the Saint Louis University School of Medicine. "This concept that we propagated for years that pregnancy is not a good time for weight loss and physical activity is wrong."

The researchers and experts have stated that despite the fact that this study only focused on Swedish births, the findings can be translated to all women. They recommend pregnant women to pay attention to their weight.

The study was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

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