Obesity and Pregnancy

Obesity has become an epidemic in the US and around the world.   This means we are also seeing a lot of women of childbearing age entering pregnancy with obesity.  Not only does this pose increased health risks for pregnant women, but it also increases complications of pregnancy and birth defects in the fetuses.

For women with a body mass index (BMI) over 30, getting pregnant can be more difficult.   Once pregnant, miscarriage rates are also higher.  During pregnancy, complications like gestational diabetes, pregnancy-induced hypertension, and preeclampsia are also more common and the risk increases as BMI increases.  Risk of stillbirths and neonatal death are also higher.


For the fetus, it’s also been well established, that birth defects including the spine, heart, face, intestinal tract, and other areas are more common in women who are obese during pregnancy.


The difficult part is that most studies show that interventions targeting weight gain during pregnancy have minimal ability to improve these risks.   However, a recent study showed that children born to mothers who had gastric bypass surgery—most of which had post-surgical weight loss and resolution or improvement of their diabetes—resulted in markedly reduced risks of birth defects.


This adds to the growing body of evidence that obesity in pregnancy is best handled by working to intervene prepregnancy.   Working towards a lower BMI and improved glucose metabolism before getting pregnant yields multiple benefits during conception, throughout pregnancy, and even into the early infant stages.   Weight loss can be some of the hardest work women have to do, but for those considering pregnancy, its rewards are multiplied. At El Camino Women’s Medical Group, we work with women trying to achieve weight loss in all stages of life.   Come in if this is something you want to work on.



El Camino Women’s Medical Group offers the latest Minimally Invasive Solutions for gynecologic problems.   Drs. Amy TengErika Balassiano, and Pooja Gupta, all members of AAGL (American Association of Gynecologic Laparoscopy) are highly trained and experienced in the field of Minimally Invasive Gynecologic Surgery.   Dr. Erika Balassiano has also completed a Minimally Invasive Gynecologic Surgery Fellowship, under the supervision of world-renowned Dr. Camran Nezhat.


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