Overweight, Obese Pregnant Women Pose Risk to Their Babies

APRIL 01, 2006
Susan Farley

In an opinion issued by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, more attention is needed on the weight of pregnant women and its effect on their babies. One third of all US women are obese, and many others are at an unhealthy weight. For obese women who become pregnant, there is an increased risk of miscarriage, blood pressure problems, and pregnancy-related diabetes, as well as an increased possibility of a cesarean (C-) section delivery. An obese mother also increases her risk for delivering an overweight baby; a baby whose birth weight is at least 10 lb is considered overweight. Other dangers include an increased risk of stillbirth, prematurity, neural tube defects, and higher rates of childhood obesity.Women considered to be overweight (not obese) also face an increased risk of diabetes, high blood pressure, and C-section if they gain too much weight before getting pregnant. Women can expect to gain 25 to 35 lb during pregnancy if they are at a normal weight, 15 to 25 lb if they are overweight, and 15 lb if they are obese. Although dieting during pregnancy is not recommended, doctors encourage lifestyle changes, portion control, and food diaries.

Ms. Farley is a freelance medical writer based in Wakefield, RI.