Instrument-Assisted Delivery, C-Section Riskier with Maternal Obesity or 35+ lbs. Pregnancy Weight Gain

Norwegian researchers recently conducted a study that found that women with a pre-pregnancy body mass index (BMI) of 40 had an increased risk of vacuum extraction delivery or C-section.  Women who weren’t overweight before getting pregnant but who gained more than 16kg (35 lbs.) also had an increased chance of needing a C-section or forceps or vacuum extraction.

Obesity is a Global Health Crisis

The World Health Organization (WHO) reports that 1.4 billion adults were overweight (BMI of 25-29.9) in 2008, and more than half a billion would be considered obese (BMI of 30 or more).  Roughly one-third of U.S. adults were considered obese in 2009-2010, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Research: Obesity Increases Risk of Pregnancy Complications

“Our study examines pre-pregnancy BMI and gestational weight gain on the mothers’ risk of operative delivery,” said Dr. Nils-Halvdan Morken (University of Bergen, Norway), lead author of the Acta Obstetricia et Gynecologica Scandinavica study. “With such alarming rates of obesity, understanding its impact is an important health issue, particularly for women in child-bearing years.”

Researchers used data taken from participants of the Norwegian Mother and Child Cohort Study (MoBa) – a prospective, population-based group of women giving birth in Norway between 1999 and 2008.  The MoBa study, conducted by the Norwegian Institute of Public Health, now includes a cohort of 108,000 children, 90,700 mothers, and 71,500 fathers.  A sample of 50,416 women who gave birth to one child was included in the study, and those experiencing preeclampsia, hypertension, diabetes, gestational diabetes or placenta previa were excluded.

The results show that women who were overweight and obese before pregnancy were at increased risk of C-section.  Women with a pre-pregnancy BMI of 40 or more had the strongest risk of C-section and increased risk of vacuum extraction delivery.  Researchers also found that women who gained 35 pounds or more while pregnant significantly increased the risk of forceps, vacuum extraction and C-section – a finding independent of BMI prior to pregnancy. Obese women had significantly lower gestational weight gain, but their babies tended to be larger.

Dr. Morken concludes, “Obesity and weight gain above 16 kg during pregnancy are independent risk factors for vacuum extraction delivery and need for C-section.  While other factors may contribute to operative delivery and further investigation of gestational weight gain is warranted, it is important obstetricians be aware of the impact of a high BMI on pregnancy and delivery to properly advise women considering motherhood.”

Monitoring Pregnant Womens’ Weight, Awareness of Obesity’s Impact Crucial

Indeed, being overweight during pregnancy can be responsible for a number of complications, including an increased risk of gestational diabetes, a macrosomic baby, premature birth, pregnancy-induced hypertension, a longer labor, and, as this study confirms, C-section.  It is imperative for physicians to pay attention to a pregnant woman’s weight and weight gain during pregnancy.  Physicians should work with overweight women to create a diet and exercise program so that weight and weight gain are as healthy as possible, thereby minimizing risks associated with a high BMI.  Physicians must be aware of the complications associated with overweight pregnant women, and they must carefully monitor mothers during pregnancy and delivery.

Failure to Properly Monitor Pregnancy and Skillfully Handle Complications Is Negligence

Being overweight prior to and gaining excessive weight during pregnancy can cause an array of complications.  If a doctor did not properly monitor your weight throughout your pregnancy or did not inform you of the risks that obesity poses for your child, this constitutes medical negligence. If this lack of oversight resulted in harm to you or the baby, this is medical malpractice. Please contact us to review your case; it is possible you may be entitled to restitution.

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