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Obese Black Women at Higher Risk for Having Very Large Babies
Date:2/14/2013

THURSDAY, Feb. 14 (HealthDay News) -- Black women who are obese before they become pregnant or gain an excessive amount of weight during pregnancy are at greater risk for having an abnormally large baby, according to a new study.

Macrosomia -- when an infant is born weighing more than 8.8 pounds -- could result in a number of complications, such as hemorrhage, infection, the need for a C-section, preeclampsia and infant death near birth, the researchers said.

Preeclampsia is a pregnancy-related condition marked by high blood pressure and protein in the urine.

Using data on 59,000 black women from the Black Women's Health Study, the researchers compared information on the mothers of 691 full-term infants who weighed more than 8.8 pounds at birth to similar women whose babies weighed less.

Mothers who had a body-mass index (BMI) of more than 31 were twice as likely to have a baby with macrosomia, the study found. BMI is a measure of height versus weight, and 30 and over is considered obese. In addition, the risk for macrosomia was also much higher for women with a pre-pregnancy waist circumference wider than 35 inches compared to women with a waistline smaller than 27 inches.

Women who gained more weight than is recommended in the 2009 Institute of Medicine (IOM) guidelines were also at greater risk for having an abnormally large baby. The researchers noted this was true for all categories of pre-pregnancy BMI.

"In addition to maintaining a healthy weight and waistline before pregnancy, our data suggest that it is especially important for obese women to adhere to the IOM guidelines for pregnancy weight gain to reduce their risk of macrosomia," senior study author Lauren Wise, an associate professor of epidemiology at the Boston University School of Public Health, said in a university news release.

IOM guidelines for weight gain during pregnancy are as follows:

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