Nav: Home

Does unhealthy weight before pregnancy increase the risk for severe illness or death for the mother?

November 14, 2017

Bottom Line: Being over- or underweight before pregnancy was associated with a small increased risk of severe maternal illness or death.

Why The Research Is Interesting: Unhealthy weight during pregnancy is associated with adverse birth outcomes. Less is known about the association between unhealthy weight before pregnancy and maternal complications.

Who and When: 743,630 women who gave birth in Washington State, 2004-2013.

What (Study Measures):

Exposure: Women's before-pregnancy body mass index

Outcome: Severe maternal illness or death, defined as life-threatening conditions or conditions leading to serious consequences, or complications requiring intensive care unit admission, or maternal death during the hospitalization.

How (Study Design): This is an observational study. In observational studies, researchers observe exposures and outcomes for patients as they occur naturally in clinical care or real life. Because researchers are not intervening for purposes of the study they cannot control natural differences that could explain study findings so they cannot prove a cause-and-effect relationship.

Authors: Sarka Lisonkova, M.D., Ph.D., University of British Columbia and the Children's and Women's Hospital and Health Centre of British Columbia, Vancouver, and coauthors

Results: Compared to women with normal body mass index [BMI; 18.5-24.9), absolute risks of severe maternal illness or death per 10,000 women were:
  • 28.8 more for underweight women (BMI less than 18.5);

  • 17.6 more for overweight women (BMI 25.0-29.9);

  • 24.9 more for obese women with a BMI of 30.0-34.9;

  • 35.8 more for obese women with a BMI of 35.0-39.9;

  • 61.1 more for obese women with a BMI of 40 or greater.


Study Limitations: Despite the large study size, death and a few very rare complications occurred in only a small number of women to be able to assess associations between unhealthy BMI and these specific outcomes. Information on BMI was self-reported and potentially inaccurate.

Study Conclusions: Among pregnant women in Washington State, unhealthy prepregnancy BMI, compared with normal BMI, was associated with a small absolute increase in severe maternal morbidity or mortality.
-end-
Related material:

The following related elements also are available on the For The Media website:

The editorial, "Prepregnancy Obesity and Severe Maternal Morbidity," by Aaron B. Caughey, M.D., Ph.D.

For more details and to read the full study, please visit the For The Media website.

(doi:10.1001/jama.2017.16191)

Editor's Note: Please see the article for additional information, including other authors, author contributions and affiliations, financial disclosures, funding and support, etc.

Want to embed a link to this study in your story? Link will be live at the embargo time http://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/fullarticle/10.1001/jama.2017.16191

The JAMA Network Journals

Related Pregnancy Articles:

Paracetamol during pregnancy can inhibit masculinity
Paracetamol during pregnancy can inhibit masculinity Paracetamol during pregnancy can inhibit the development of 'male behavior' in mice.
The cost of opioid use during pregnancy
A new study published today by the scientific journal Addiction reveals that the incidence of neonatal abstinence syndrome -- often caused by mothers using opioids during pregnancy -- is increasing in the United States, and carries an enormous burden in terms of hospital days and costs.
New study: Pre-pregnancy BMI directly linked to excess pregnancy weight gain
It's well known that excessive weight gain during pregnancy can have a lasting negative impact on the health of a mother and her baby.
Pregnancy-specific β1-glycoproteins
Development of new strategies and novel drug design to treat trophoblastic diseases and to provide pregnancy success are of crucial importance in maintenance the female reproductive health.
Should hypothyroidism in pregnancy be treated?
When a woman becomes pregnant, many changes occur in her body.
Pre-pregnancy progesterone helps women with recurrent pregnancy loss
Women who have had two or more unexplained miscarriages can benefit from natural progesterone treatment before pregnancy, a new a study from the University of Illinois at Chicago shows.
Male pipefish pregnancy, it's complicated
In the upside-down world of the pipefish, sexual selection appears to work in reverse, with flashy females battling for males who bear the pregnancy and carry their young to term in their brood pouch.
Pregnancy leads to changes in the mother's brain
A study directed by researchers from the UAB and IMIM are the first to reveal how pregnancy causes long-lasting alterations in brain structure, probably related to improving the mother's ability to protect and interact with the child.
MRIs during pregnancy and outcomes for infants, children
In an analysis that included more than 1.4 million births, exposure to magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) during the first trimester of pregnancy compared with nonexposure was not associated with increased risk of harm to the fetus or in early childhood, although gadolinium MRI at any time during pregnancy was associated with an increased risk of a broad set of rheumatological, inflammatory, or skin conditions and, possibly, for stillbirth or neonatal death, according to a study appearing in the Sept.
The benefits of exercise during pregnancy
Women who exercise during pregnancy are more likely to deliver vaginally than those who do not, and show no greater risk of preterm birth.

Related Pregnancy Reading:

The Mama Natural Week-by-Week Guide to Pregnancy and Childbirth
by Genevieve Howland (Author)

What to Expect When You're Expecting
by Heidi Murkoff (Author), Sharon Mazel (Contributor)

Real Food for Pregnancy: The Science and Wisdom of Optimal Prenatal Nutrition
by Lily Nichols (Author)

The Whole 9 Months: A Week-By-Week Pregnancy Nutrition Guide with Recipes for a Healthy Start
by Jennifer Lang MD (Author), Dana Angelo White MS RD (Author), Jessica Alba (Foreword)

The Big Fat Activity Book for Pregnant People
by Jordan Reid (Author), Erin Williams (Author)

Dude, You're Gonna Be a Dad!: How to Get (Both of You) Through the Next 9 Months
by John Pfeiffer (Author)

Mayo Clinic Guide to a Healthy Pregnancy: From Doctors Who Are Parents, Too!
by the pregnancy experts at Mayo Clinic (Author)

Pathways to Pregnancy and Parturition
by P. L. Senger (Author)

Bump to Birthday, Pregnancy & First Year Baby Journal : an award-winning journal / diary to help you hold onto memories of the growing bump, the birth & the first year with your baby
by Journals of a Lifetime (Author), Helen Stephens (Author), from you to me (Editor)

Pregnancy, Childbirth, and the Newborn: The Complete Guide
by Penny Simkin (Author), Janet Whalley (Author), Ann Keppler (Author), Janelle Durham (Author), April Bolding (Author)

Best Science Podcasts 2018

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2018. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Dying Well
Is there a way to talk about death candidly, without fear ... and even with humor? How can we best prepare for it with those we love? This hour, TED speakers explore the beauty of life ... and death. Guests include lawyer Jason Rosenthal, humorist Emily Levine, banker and travel blogger Michelle Knox, mortician Caitlin Doughty, and entrepreneur Lux Narayan.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#492 Flint Water Crisis
This week we dig into the Flint water crisis: what happened, how it got so bad, what turned the tide, what's still left to do, and the mix of science, politics, and activism that are still needed to finish pulling Flint out of the crisis. We spend the hour with Dr Mona Hanna-Attisha, a physician, scientist, activist, the founder and director of the Pediatric Public Health Initiative, and author of the book "What the Eyes Don't See: A Story of Crisis, Resistance, and Hope in an American City".