Pre-pregnancy weight strongly linked to infant mortality

Pre-pregnancy weight strongly linked to infant mortality

A new study found a strong link between high pre-pregnancy body mass index (BMI) in women and infant deaths.

It was determined when a woman has a BMI considered medically obese, the infant mortality rate from preterm causes can be up to twice as high in comparison to those with a normal BMI.

Birth and death records of more than 6 million newborns from 38 states were analyzed for the study, which included the birth mother’s height and weight to determine the BMI association. This was the largest study to date analyzing the relationship between weight and infant mortality.

Dr. Rannveig Maria Middleton, an obstetrician and gynecologist at Advocate Condell Medical Center in Libertyville, Ill., stresses that women should begin their pregnancy with a normal BMI between 18.5 and 24.9.

“We always want as healthy a pregnancy as possible and that begins at pre-conception,” Dr. Middleton says.

Additionally, the study found that even when obese women adhere to the weight gain criteria of 11 to 20 pounds during pregnancy, the infant mortality outcome is not significantly impacted, highlighting the importance of pre-pregnancy weight.

“We know that when obese women become pregnant their risks for maternal complications such as gestational hypertension, gestational diabetes and pre-eclampsia are significantly increased,” Dr. Middleton says.  “Babies are more likely to be born pre-term in these obese moms because maternal illness necessitates early delivery.”

Dr. Middleton urges mothers to maintain a healthy diet during pregnancy and engage in light exercise, unless a medical condition does not allow for it.

“The things that will help the mom be healthy, will also help her have a healthy pregnancy and delivery,” Dr. Middleton says.

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health enews Staff
health enews Staff

health enews staff is a group of experienced writers from our Advocate Health Care sites, also including freelance or intern writers.