Maternal obesity prior to pregnancy associated with birth defects

Aug 06, 2007

Mothers of babies born with some structural birth defects—including missing limbs, malformed hearts and underdeveloped spinal cords—appear more likely to be obese prior to becoming pregnant than mothers whose children are born without such defects, according to a report in the August issue of Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine, one of the JAMA/Archives journals.

Overweight and obese women are known to be at risk for chronic diseases, infertility, irregular menstruation and complications during pregnancy, according to background information in the article. In 2003 and 2004, about 51 percent of women aged 20 to 39 were classified as overweight or obese.

D. Kim Waller, Ph.D., of the University of Texas, Houston, and colleagues interviewed 10,249 women in eight states whose babies were born with birth defects between 1997 and 2002. The women were contacted between six weeks and 24 months after the baby’s birth and asked for their height and weight before pregnancy, along with other demographic and medical information. These women were compared with 4,065 women who had babies without birth defects during the same time period.

Mothers of babies with the following seven of 16 birth defects were more likely to be obese than mothers of infants without birth defects:

Mothers of babies with gastroschisis, which is similar to omphalocele but involves organs protruding through a defect in the abdominal wall that is not the navel, were significantly less likely to be obese than mothers of babies without birth defects.

“The reasons for an association between maternal obesity and a spectrum of structural birth defects are unknown,” the authors write. “Both animal studies and human studies provide substantial evidence that alterations in glycemic control are responsible for an increased risk of a range of structural birth defects among women who have diabetes prior to becoming pregnant. Thus, a similar mechanism to that occurring in women with diabetes may be responsible for the associations observed between maternal obesity and specific categories of birth defects.” Women with type 2 diabetes were excluded from the study, and when the analysis was performed also excluding women with gestational diabetes, the results were similar. However, undiagnosed cases of type 2 or gestational diabetes may have affected the results.

“Our study supports previous evidence as well as provides new evidence for the associations between maternal obesity and particular categories of birth defects,” the authors conclude. “Future inquiries are needed to unravel the underlying reasons for these associations.”

Source: JAMA and Archives Journals

Explore further: 'Beach body' ads investigated after outcry in Britain

Related Stories

Yahoo unveils new online video series

43 minutes ago

US Internet giant Yahoo said it was expanding its online offerings, unveiling 18 new video series with which it hopes to attract a larger audience and advertisers.

Groups want review of Shell's Arctic regulatory filings

1 hour ago

Two groups petitioned the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission on Monday for an investigation of Royal Dutch Shell PLC and what the groups call misstatements in regulatory filings regarding the risk of a catastrophic oil ...

Apple's Mac is selling strong, iPad not so much

1 hour ago

Apple's iPhone was again the company's star in the first three months of the year. The tech giant sold 61 million iPhones, or 40 percent more than in the same period a year ago. That represented about two-thirds ...

Claims about the decline of the West are 'exaggerated'

8 hours ago

A new paper by Oxford researchers argues that some countries in Western Europe, and the USA, Canada, Australia and New Zealand now have birth rates that are now relatively close to replacement, that the underlying trend in ...

Recommended for you

Dutch DSM posts Q1 slump

Apr 29, 2015

Dutch pharmaceutical group DSM posted a 70 million euro first quarter net loss Wednesday despite an 11 percent jump in sales, boosted by higher animal nutrition volumes and favourable exchange rates.

New meds help drugmakers weather strong dollar, other issues

Apr 28, 2015

Revenue from important new medicines for various cancers, hepatitis C and more helped top U.S. drugmakers weather unfavorable currency exchange rates and other challenges. Pfizer Inc., Merck & Co. and Bristol-Myers Squibb ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.