This study looks at women who have a history of weight loss surgery as having an increased risk of giving birth to preterm babies or small for gestational age babies. This makes them as high-risk and they all should be classified as an at-risk pregnancy group, according to the British Medical Journal.
In 2008, nearly 500 million people were classified as obese across the globe. This health condition is estimated to lower a person’s life span by up to 4 years or 8-10 years for morbidly obese individuals. Obesity is a major risk factor for dangerous pregnancies or perinatal outcomes, whether before or after birth.
Experts say that weight loss is important to help to improve a mother’s health that has endured weight loss surgery. Since the 1990s, women have used bariatric surgery as a weight loss measure more than ever. Research from the Karolinska Institute in Sweden conducted a population-based study to look at the association between weight loss surgery and perinatal outcomes between the years 1992-2009. The researchers used information from the National Patient Register, Swedish Medical Birth Register and the Education Register. Ultimately, women who had weight loss surgery compared to those other women who had dangerous medical conditions that affected pregnancy too.
The study looked at information on maternal age, smoking, delivery year, diabetes or pre-pregnancy hypertension diagnosis and early pregnancy body mass index. BMI was categorized as underweight as under 18.5 BMI, normal BMI at 18.5-24.9, overweight 25-29.9, obesity class I at 30-34.9, obesity class II at 35-39.9 and obesity class III at over 40 BMI. According to the study, from 1992-2009, the number of births from women who had bariatric surgery increased from just 83 to 266. The average surgery to delivery time for these patients was 5.2 years, showing the trend that getting pregnant after surgery isn’t easy or safe and that patients may have heeded their doctor’s advice on waiting at least 18 months to 24 months to try to conceive.
The women they studied were older, obese, often smokers and had a lower education than others studied. 2,534 births were studied from post-bariatric surgery births compared to 12,468 control group births with the same smoking status, education level, delivery year and early pregnancy BMI.
Preterm birth was observed in 243 of 2,511 births or 10% with post-surgery births compared to 6.1 with the control group. The risk of having a small for gestational age was higher for women who had weight loss surgery (5% versus 3%); however the statistics were not staggering. Ultimately, the highest preterm birth risk was with women who had bariatric surgery and early pregnancy BMI of over 30. This study shows that pregnancy women with a history of weight loss surgery should definitely be considered as an at-risk pregnancy group during and after pregnancy. These researchers suggest that future studies should look at the causes behind increased risk for small preterm babies with this group of women.