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Obesity Tied to Increased Risk of Miscarriage, Stillbirth

Update Date: Apr 16, 2014 02:52 PM EDT

A new study has found another reason why being overweight or obese is detrimental to one's health. This study reported that women who are overweight or obese at the time of pregnancy have a greater risk of losing their unborn child.

In this study, the researchers reviewed 38 published studies that examined the relationship between a woman's weight before and during pregnancy and the risk of death in the fetus or infant. From the data, there were over 10,000 miscarriages, more than 16,200 stillbirths and more than 4,300 fetus deaths that occurred near delivery time. After delivery, 11,300 infants died during the first 30 days of life and another 5,000 infants died later on. Weight was measured by using body mass index (BMI), which calculates weight in relation to height.

The researchers found that a small increase in the mother's weight lead to an increase in the fetus's or infant's risk of death. The team calculated that for severely obese women, they have double to triple the risk of losing their baby with a rate of 2.7 percent. Absolute risk for fetal death if the woman is obese is one percent. The researchers stated that even thought the risks are small, it is important to maintain a healthy weight.

"As for women who are already pregnant, they should follow existing guidelines for weight gain during pregnancy," said lead author Dagfinn Aune, from the department of epidemiology and biostatistics in the School of Public Health at Imperial College London in England. "This analysis gives a better picture of the strength of the risks. Although fetal and infant deaths are relatively rare in high-income countries, affecting about 0.5 percent of pregnancies, they are devastating for the parents that are affected."

Aune added, according to Philly, "We have to remember that overweight and obesity increase the risk of a number of other more common pregnancy complications and many other diseases as well."

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

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