New research published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ) suggests that the risk of birth defects increases if a pregnant woman is overweight or obese.
The research took a data sample of 1,243,957 singleton live birth infants who were born between 2001 and 2014 in Sweden.
The study focused on women who were overweight with a body mass index (BMI) between 25 and 30, and women who were obese with a BMI of 30 to 35.
It also looked at underweight women who presented a BMI of less than 18.5.
The results of the study showed that 43,550 infants (3.5% of the sample) presented any major congenital malformation, with congenital heart defects being the most common (1.6%).
Commenting on the research, Director for England at the Royal College of Midwives, Jacque Gerrard, said: “This is a study which, we welcome, builds on previous research about the impact of being overweight or obese on the developing baby.
“There are many reasons why it is important that women should have a healthy body weight before conception, and throughout the antenatal period. Adult and childhood obesity is a major problem in the UK which is known to increase the risk of developing other associated disease such as diabetes, hypertension and cardiovascular disease.”
In conclusion to the study “major congenital malformation and subgroups of organ specific malformations progressively increased with maternal overweight and increasing severity of obesity.”
“There is a need for greater priority to be placed on prevention interventions including giving women evidence-based information, education and also support for women and their families, about the benefits of healthy eating before and during pregnancy, and taking appropriate exercise,” Jacque Gerrard added.
An extract of the research can be found here.
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