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Obesity during conception doubles the risk of infant mortality

Posted:  Thursday, November 26, 2015

Preconceptional care is more important than estimated! A latest study at the University Of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health suggests that healthy weight during conception and optimal weight during pregnancy significantly reduce the risk of the infant mortality in the first year.

Published in the journal Obesity, the study assessed the records of over 1.2 million births that occurred from 2003 to 2011 in Pennsylvania, including 5,530 infant deaths (considerd until the age of one). The pre-pregnancy body mass index was used to categorize the women as underweight, normal weight, overweight and obese. Weight gain during pregnancy was evaluated against the Institute of Medicine recommendations. The effect of excess or insufficient weight gain during pregnancy on infant mortality was examined.

Interestingly, in all categories, except that of obese, weight gain that was greater or less than the recommendation was associated with increased risk of infant mortality. In the case of obese women, even with the recommended weight gain, the risk of infant mortality was 2 times greater than women with normal weight.

Shedding light on the importance of their findings, co-author Katherine Himes, M.D., assistant professor in Pitt's Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology said, “Obesity and infant mortality are among the most critical public health issues today. Our study highlights the importance of discussing weight loss with obese women prior to pregnancy because losing weight during pregnancy may increase the risk of her baby dying.”

The researchers hope that health care providers stress on the importance of healthy preconception weight and appropriate weight gain during pregnancy to improve infant survival.

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