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Slow-growing babies more likely in normal-weight women; Less common in obese pregnancies
Date:4/27/2012

Obesity during pregnancy puts women at higher risk of a multitude of challenges. But, according to a new study presented earlier this month at the American Institute of Ultrasound in Medicine annual convention, fetal growth restriction, or the poor growth of a baby while in the mother's womb, is not one of them. In fact, study authors from the University of Rochester Medical Center found that the incidence of fetal growth restriction was lower in obese women when compared to non-obese women.

Researchers, led by senior study author and high-risk pregnancy expert Loralei Thornburg, M.D., conducted the study because a wealth of data shows that obese women are at greater risk of fetal death or stillbirth. Unfortunately, in the majority of cases, doctors don't know why. Thornburg's team wanted to determine if fetal growth restriction which increases the likelihood of stillbirth might play a role. She says growth restriction may go undiagnosed in obese women because it can be difficult to get an accurate measure of mom's belly size, which is a tool used to gauge the baby's growth or lack of growth.

"We wondered if the increased risk of stillbirth could be due to a high level of undiagnosed growth restriction the idea being that if the physician doesn't know that the baby is too small then they don't know that mom and baby need additional monitoring, which is essential to prevent fetal death," said Thornburg, an assistant professor in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the Medical Center whose research focuses on obesity in pregnancy.

The team, including lead study author and Maternal-Fetal Medicine Fellow Dzhamala Gilmandyar, M.D., found that growth restriction was significantly lower in obese and diabetic women; it was higher in women with preeclampsia, or pregnancy-induced high blood pressure, and smokers a finding in line with past research. Of the babies that had growth restriction, they determined how many moms were
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Contact: Emily Boynton
emily_boynton@urmc.rochester.edu
585-273-1757
University of Rochester Medical Center
Source:Eurekalert

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