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How obesity can affect the chance of complications during pregnancy



A new study by Sydney researchers has suggested that women who are severely obese can lower their chances of having difficulties during pregnancy, such as gestational diabetes or pre-eclampsia.

This report is released amid concerns about the insufficient response to obesity during the pandemic.

Northern Sydney Local Health District researchers compared the patient records of more than 2500 obese mothers over five years. They adjusted for demographic factors like age.

Emma MacCarthy, who recently lost more than 50kg, says she would have wanted to know about the risks of falling pregnant while morbidly obese.CREDIT: JESSICA HROMAS

Previous studies have indicated that obese women are more likely to experience complications than women who maintain a healthy weight. However, new Frontiers in Endocrinology research published this week in Frontiers in Endocrine showed a greater risk for women with Class III obesity (previously known as morbid obesity) than women with Class I (a BMI between 30 and 34.9).

Pre-eclampsia was more common in those who were obese to class III than those who were obese to type I (6.2% vs. 2.8%).

They were also more likely than their counterparts to develop gestational diabetics (28% of class III mothers, versus 21%) and to need a cesarean birth (54% vs. 40%), which is slightly higher than the state average of 37%.

The most recent Mother and Babies Report from NSW Health, published earlier this year, shows that 15% of all women who gave birth to babies in 2020 were obese.

Rates varied from less than 9 percent for mothers in Sydney, Northern Sydney, and South Eastern Sydney local healthcare districts to more than 26 percent in the state’s west and more than 20 percent in the Nepean blue mountains, Hunter New England, and Murrumbidgee districts.

Professor Sarah Glastras (Endocrinologist Associate) led the study. She said that she hopes the findings encourage women with obesity to consider reducing their weight before they try to get pregnant.

She stated that “You are not only putting yourself at risk but also the health of your unborn child.” Women need to be informed to make the best decisions before having a baby.

Australia may be facing an obesity crisis after two years of restrictions on pandemics, according to Associate Professor Sof Andrikopoulos of the Australian Diabetes Society. He is also the CEO of the Australian Diabetes Society and heads the Biology and Metabolism research group at the University of Melbourne.

He said that lockdowns had led to people being more likely to stay at home and eat less healthily. People have also not been to their GP for weight monitoring. He noted that elective surgery restrictions have also affected bariatric surgery.

Dr. Andrikopoulos stated that the study, which he did not participate in, had similar results to other obesity-related conditions.

He said, “If you are obese, any weight loss will have positive outcomes for chronic diseases.”

Dr. Glastras stated that while it was too early to know the effects of the pandemic obesity rate, some people have been able to work from home and exercise more.

She expected that she would be affected by the move to learn from home and lose access to organized sports and school students.

“It has had a particularly significant impact on the lifestyles of younger people. They are our reproductive future.”

Emma MacCarthy was 50kg above her healthy weight when she became pregnant in 2017. It was not something she knew would affect the type of pregnancy.

The 45-year-old mother from northwest Sydney was diagnosed with gestational diabetes, and her pregnancy was considered high-risk. She gave birth to a healthy boy, but a second pregnancy ended in miscarriage.

She said, “Having a child seemed like the most natural thing and joy in the world.” “I was certainly naive to the risks – oblivious – but I was very, very fortunate my doctors weren’t.”

Ms. MacCarthy was three years old when she gave birth to her child. The pandemic prompted her to alter her diet and exercise habits. Her weight dropped by a healthy amount in 12 months.

“COVID was beginning, and I realized: I have two young children, and if it gets me, it could get me into serious trouble. This is something I must do.

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