While obese women used more medical services during pregnancy, they were less likely to see nurse practitioners and physicians assistants for prenatal care, Chu's team found.
One expert says that obesity takes both a health and a financial toll on pregnant women.
"This article accurately reflects the well-known fact that obesity is a significant risk factor in pregnancy," said Dr. Richard Frieder, an obstetrician-gynecologist at Santa Monica-UCLA Medical Center.
"This wasn't a problem 50 years ago, before the fast food/super-size generation that is now having babies," Frieder added.
Complications such as preeclampsia, diabetes, deep vein thrombosis, macrosomia (excessive newborn birth weight), abnormal labor and the need for a Caesarean delivery are the usual reasons for an increased level of care and longer hospital stays, Frieder said.
"This is all just a small example of the massive problem that obesity costs our society, both to individual health as well as the economic cost to our institutions," Frieder said.
For more on obesity, visit the U.S. National Institutes of Health.
SOURCES: Susan Y. Chu, Ph.D., senior epidemiologist, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta; Richard Frieder, M.D., obstetrician-gynecologist, Santa Monica-UCLA Medical Center, and clinical instructor, obstetrics and gynecology, David Geffen School of Medicine, University of California, Los Angeles; April 3, 2008, New England Journal of Medicine
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