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Research highlights problems of predicting birthweights in obese mothers
Date:7/9/2008

Researchers have found what they believe to be the most accurate way of predicting the birth-weight of babies born to the growing number of obese mothers, according to a study in the UK-based journal Ultrasound in Obstetrics and Gynecology.

Experts from the University of Rochester Strong Memorial Hospital in Rochester, New York, USA, have recorded accurate results in more than nine out of ten cases using the gestation-adjusted projection method (GAP).

The GAP method uses a range of ultrasound measurements, taken when the mother is 34 to 36 weeks pregnant, and a mathematical formula to determine whether the baby is larger than the average size of babies for its gestational age. This data is then used to predict the final birth weight.

GAP is very useful when a pregnant woman is obese, as this often makes it difficult for medical staff to obtain a clear ultrasound image of her baby. This is particularly true at the end stages of pregnancies, when most birth weight measurements are obtained, so doing this earlier in the pregnancy is a distinct advantage. Previous research carried out at the University of Rochester has already shown GAP to be accurate when used on diabetic and non-diabetic patients.

"Obesity is a risk factor for almost all obstetric complications" explains Dr Loralei Thornburg from the Division of Maternal Fetal Medicine at the University. "It is particularly important to identify high birth-weight babies over 4,000 grams (just under nine pounds) as these are associated with higher complication rates for mothers and babies.

"Given that two-thirds of Americans are now obese and one in 20 are morbidly obese, it is essential that clinicians are able to predict which mothers will give birth to high birth-weight babies and to be able to reassure those who are not carrying one that is larger than average. Similar obesity rates are now being recorded in some parts of Europe as well.

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Contact: Annette Whibley
wizard.media@virgin.net
Wiley-Blackwell
Source:Eurekalert

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