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Obesity before pregnancy linked to earliest preterm births, Stanford/Packard study finds
Date:6/25/2014

men with illnesses previously linked to prematurity, such as diabetes, high blood pressure or preeclampsia. After these exclusions, the team had 989,697 births to analyze. Births were classified by gestational age, and many factors about the mothers were considered in the analysis, including body mass index, race/ethnicity, whether they were first-time mothers, educational attainment, when prenatal care began, source of health insurance, maternal age and maternal height.

For first-time mothers, obesity was linked with a substantial increase in risk of delivery before 28 weeks of pregnancy. The risk was highest at the earliest gestational ages and also at the highest levels of obesity. For instance, non-Hispanic, white first-time mothers in the most obese category were six times more likely than normal-weight women to deliver a baby between 20 and 23 weeks.

Obese women having their second or later child were also more likely to deliver very early than normal-weight women, though the risk was less pronounced than for first-time mothers.

"Ideally, as the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists has already recommended, women should embark upon a healthy diet and exercise program before becoming pregnant," said study co-author Deirdre Lyell, MD, associate professor of obstetrics and gynecology and an obstetrician at Lucile Packard Children's Hospital Stanford.

"Women who are obese should also consider meeting their obstetrician to discuss and understand the risks beyond those identified in this research," Lyell added, noting that obesity has previously been shown to raise women's risk of such pregnancy and delivery complications as gestational diabetes, preeclampsia and cesarean section.

In general, African-American women face a greater risk of preterm delivery than other populations, so the researchers were surprised to find that the effect of obesity on early preterm delivery was not explained by women's racial/e
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Contact: Erin Digitale
digitale@stanford.edu
650-724-9175
Stanford University Medical Center
Source:Eurekalert

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