CDC logo

That obesity causes harmful effects on the body and could be the reason for grave diseases is well known. Now a study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention claims that obesity during pregnancy may affect the baby too. This study alleged that women who are obese during pregnancy apparently have more chances to give birth to babies with heart defects.

It was also claimed that women who were obese or overweight before pregnancy supposedly have an 18 percent increased risk of having a baby with certain heart defects as opposed to women who were of standard body mass index (BMI) before they became pregnant. It was seen that severely obese women approximately had a 30 percent increased danger for giving birth to babies with some heart defects.

This study also found a considerable rise in various kinds of heart defects in babies born to overweight and obese women, as opposed to babies born to normal weight women. These incorporated obstructive defects on the right side of the heart, and defects in the tissue that may divide the two upper chambers of the heart.

BMI was the defining factor in deciding if the subjects were obese and overweight. It is apparently seen that BMI of 25-29.9 is considered to be overweight. BMI of 30-34.9 is said to be moderate obesity and severe obesity is defined with a BMI which is 35 or more. For instance, women may be placed in the moderate obesity category if they are 5 feet 5 inches tall and weigh about 190 pounds and thereby have a BMI of 31.6. Women may be placed in the overweight category if they are of the same height and weigh 160 pounds and thus have a BMI of 26.6.

Dr. Edwin Trevathan, director of the CDC’s National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities, commented, “Congenital heart defects are the most common types of birth defect, and among all birth defects, they are a leading cause of illness, death, and medical expenditures. Women who are obese and who are planning a pregnancy could benefit by working with their physicians to achieve a healthy weight before pregnancy.”

Around 25 kinds of heart defects were looked at and the experts found connections with obesity in 10 of them. Around five of these 10 types were also linked with being overweight prior to pregnancy. Women who were overweight but not obese had about 15 percent increased risk of delivering a baby with particular heart defects.

The study reported various vital factors like maternal age and race-ethnicity. Mothers suffering from type 1 or 2 diabetes before they got pregnant could be a powerful risk factor for heart defects. This fact was apparently not included in the study.

Suzanne Gilboa, epidemiologist at CDC’s National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities, and primary author of the study, mentioned, “These results support previous studies, as well as provide additional evidence, that there is an association between a woman being overweight or obese before pregnancy and certain types of heart defects. This provides another reason for women to maintain a healthy weight. In addition to the impact on a woman’s own health and the known pregnancy complications associated with maternal obesity, the baby’s health could be at risk.”

One imperative drawback of the study was that BMI is apparently measured based on self-reported weight and height, and weight could be under reported by women in the study interview. Even though the study supposedly discovered an alliance between overweight and obesity and the possibility of certain birth defects, additional study could be required to verify whether body weight may be a direct cause of these birth defects.

About 6,440 infants with congenital heart defects and around 5,673 infants without birth defects whose mothers were questioned as part of the National Birth Defects Prevention Study (NBDPS) were examined.

This study is claimed to be the biggest effort ever undertaken in the United States to recognize threat issues for birth defects.

This study was published in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology.