Nav: Home

Weight-loss surgery cuts risk of birth defects

October 15, 2019

Children born to women who underwent gastric bypass surgery before becoming pregnant had a lower risk of major birth defects than children born to women who had severe obesity at the start of their pregnancy. That's according to a matched cohort study by researchers at Karolinska Institutet and Örebro University published in the scientific journal JAMA. The findings indicate that weight-loss and improved blood sugar control could reduce the risk of major birth defects and ought to lessen long-standing concerns that weight-loss surgery could increase this risk.

Obesity and poor blood sugar control have in previous studies been linked to an increased risk of health complications for both mothers and their infants. Other studies have shown that weight-loss surgery may increase the risk of various nutrient deficiencies, including iron and folate which are important for fetal development. There have been concerns dating back to the 1980s that bariatric surgery could increase the risk of major birth defects. In recent years, weight-loss surgery has increased significantly, and about 1.5 percent of all babies born in Sweden today are delivered by mothers who have had bariatric surgery.

The current study shows, however, that the risk of major birth defects was about 30 percent lower in children of mothers who had gastric bypass surgery than in children of severely obese mothers. The risk of major defects was 3.4 percent in children born to women who had had gastric bypass surgery, which is in line with the risk of major defects in children born to normal weight women (3.5 percent). For women who at their first prenatal checkup had a body-mass index comparable to that of the gastric bypass patients' pre-surgery weight, the risk of major birth defects was 4.9 percent.

"This study shows that weight-loss and improved blood sugar control in the mother can actually result in a lower risk of birth defects in the child," says Martin Neovius, professor and researcher at the Department of Medicine in Solna and one of the study's main authors. "It should help reduce fears that bariatric surgery increases the risk of birth defects in the event of future pregnancy, assuming that surgery patients take their recommended nutritional supplements."

Lost 40 kilos

To compare the two groups, the researchers examined data on more than 33,000 births in Sweden between 2007 and 2014. Of these, 2,921 were children born to mothers who underwent a gastric bypass, and 30,753 were children born to women who weighed about the same as the gastric bypass women did before their surgeries. The women in the surgery group lost an average of 40 kilos and weighed around 82 kilos at their first prenatal checkup. Their use of diabetes medication decreased to 1.5 percent from 9.7 percent.

"Bariatric surgery has many positive effects on pregnancy," says Olof Stephansson, obstetrician and senior researcher at the Department of Medicine in Solna, and one of the study's main authors. "Still, it is important that these women receive special antenatal care, including additional ultrasounds to monitor fetal growth and detailed nutritional counselling that include administration of supplements necessary after weight-loss surgery. Antenatal care providers should also check for nutrition deficiencies in addition to iron, such as folic acid, calcium and vitamin B12."
-end-
The study was financed by the U.S. National Institutes of Health, the Swedish Research Council and the Swedish Research Council for Health, Working Life and Welfare.

Publication: "Association of Maternal Gastric Bypass Surgery with Offspring Birth Defects,"

Martin Neovius, Björn Pasternak, Kari Johansson, Ingmar Näslund, Olof Stephansson

JAMA, October 15, 2019, DOI: 10.1001/jama.2019.12925

Karolinska Institutet

Related Bariatric Surgery Articles:

Studies continue to highlight benefits of bariatric surgery in teens
Children's Colorado researchers and their colleagues found that musculoskeletal pain, physical function and quality of life in adolescents significantly improves and is maintained three years after bariatric surgery.
Bariatric surgery may not lead to lower health care costs
Despite helping to bring about improved survival and significant weight loss, bariatric surgery may not lead to lower health care costs in the long term, says a Veterans Affairs study.
Bariatric surgery is safe for teens with morbid obesity
Bariatric surgery is safe and, in many cases, beneficial for teenagers with morbid obesity who would otherwise face a heightened risk of developing severe health problems, including heart disease and stroke, according to a new study from Penn Medicine and the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP).
Criteria for bariatric surgery should consider more than just patient's weight
More than one-third of Americans are obese, and while more than 250,000 bariatric surgeries are performed annually in the United States, experts at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center and 45 worldwide scientific and medical societies say surgery should be an option for many more patients.
Bariatric surgery can be safe and effective for adolescents
Pediatricians are often reluctant to recommend bariatric surgery for teen-agers, but a Rutgers-led study concludes it is a justifiable treatment for adolescents with persistent extreme obesity if they can maintain a healthy lifestyle afterward.
Cost and weight-loss potential matter most to bariatric surgery patients
New study at Michigan Medicine reveals the most commonly performed bariatric surgery, sleeve gastrectomy, doesn't fit the top qualities that surveyed patients want out of their weight loss journey.
Could bariatric surgery make men more virile?
Men who have undergone bariatric surgery as a long-term way of losing weight might also benefit from increased testosterone levels post-surgery.
Bariatric surgery linked to safer childbirth for the mother
Obese mothers who lose weight through bariatric surgery can have safer deliveries.
Why bariatric surgery wait times have nearly doubled in 10 years
Eligible patients are increasingly facing longer waits for operations proven to help them safely lose weight that endangers their health, according to a multi-center study by surgeons at the University of Michigan.
Bariatric surgery successes lead to type 2 diabetes treatment
Bariatric surgery has long yielded almost immediate health benefits for patients with type 2 diabetes, and new findings from Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine may be the key to developing drug alternatives to surgery.
More Bariatric Surgery News and Bariatric Surgery Current Events

Top Science Podcasts

We have hand picked the top science podcasts of 2019.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Accessing Better Health
Essential health care is a right, not a privilege ... or is it? This hour, TED speakers explore how we can give everyone access to a healthier way of life, despite who you are or where you live. Guests include physician Raj Panjabi, former NYC health commissioner Mary Bassett, researcher Michael Hendryx, and neuroscientist Rachel Wurzman.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#544 Prosperity Without Growth
The societies we live in are organised around growth, objects, and driving forward a constantly expanding economy as benchmarks of success and prosperity. But this growing consumption at all costs is at odds with our understanding of what our planet can support. How do we lower the environmental impact of economic activity? How do we redefine success and prosperity separate from GDP, which politicians and governments have focused on for decades? We speak with ecological economist Tim Jackson, Professor of Sustainable Development at the University of Surrey, Director of the Centre for the Understanding of Sustainable Propserity, and author of...
Now Playing: Radiolab

An Announcement from Radiolab