Ironically, despite excessive caloric intake, many obese women are deficient in vitamins vital to a healthy pregnancy. This and other startling statistics abound when obesity and pregnancy collide. Together, they present a unique set of challenges that women and their doctors must tackle in order to achieve the best possible outcome for mom and baby.
In the December issue of the journal Seminars in Perinatology, maternal fetal medicine expert Loralei L. Thornburg, M.D., reviews many of the pregnancy-related changes and obstacles obese women may face before giving birth. The following myths and truths highlight some expected and some surprising issues to take into account before, during and after pregnancy.
"I treat obese patients all the time, and while everything may not go exactly as they'd planned, they can have healthy pregnancies," said Thornburg, who specializes in the care of high-risk pregnancies and conducts research on obesity and pregnancy. "While you can have a successful pregnancy at any size, women need to understand the challenges that their weight will create and be a partner in their own care; they need to talk with their doctors about the best way to optimize their health and the health of their baby."
Myth or Truth?
Many obese women are vitamin deficient.
Forty percent are deficient in iron, 24 percent in folic acid and 4 percent in B12. This is a concern because certain vitamins, like folic acid, are very important before conception, lowering the risk of cardiac problems and spinal defects in newborns. Other vitamins, such as calcium and iron, are needed throughout pregnancy to help babies grow.
Thornburg says vitamin deficiency has to do with the quality of the diet, not the quantity. Obese women tend to stray away from fortified cereals, fruits and vegetables, and eat more processed foods that are high in calories but low in nutritional value.
|Contact: Emily Boynton|
University of Rochester Medical Center