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Weight-Loss Surgery May Ease Childbirth Risks

Blood pressure problems fall 75 percent after procedure, study finds

TUESDAY, April 13 (HealthDay News) -- Undergoing weight-loss surgery before having a baby greatly lowers the risk that obese women will develop major health problems during pregnancy, a new study reports.

Obese women, particularly those who are extremely so, face higher risks for blood pressure disorders such as preeclampsia during pregnancy. These types of disorders, also called hypertensive disorders, can cause complications and may result in infant death. They occur in about 7 percent of pregnancies in the United States.

In the study, Wendy L. Bennett and her colleagues at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore analyzed the medical records of 585 obese females, 16 to 45 years old, who underwent weight-loss surgery either before delivering a child (269 women) or after delivery (316 women) between 2002 and 2006.

"Women who delivered after surgery had a 75 percent lower odds of a diagnosis of a hypertensive disorder in pregnancy than women who had a delivery before surgery," the study authors wrote in their report, published online April 14 in BMJ.

The findings held true even after the researchers took into account such factors as preexisting diabetes and mother's age at time of delivery.

Weight-loss surgery, also known as bariatric surgery, should be considered for obese women of childbearing age who may wish to start a family, the study authors noted in a news release from the journal.

More information

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more on pregnancy complications.

-- Randy Dotinga

SOURCE: BMJ, news release, April 13, 2010

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