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Obese Women - Risks of Birth Defects
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Obese Women - Risks of Birth Defects

According to a recent obesity-study, (Pediatrics journal, May 2003) obese and overweight women face significantly increased risks of having babies with heart abnormalities and other birth defects, according to a government study.

For example, obese women faced an even higher risk - more than triple that of normal-sized women - of having babies with a defect known as omphalocele, in which intestines or other abdominal organs protrude through the navel.

Reasons for the links between obesity and birth defects are uncertain but may include nutritional deficits in women with poor eating habits or diabetes, which is common in obesity and is known to increase risks for birth defects, according to the research team led by Watkins.

The authors examined data from births in a five-county area of metropolitan Atlanta between January 1993 and August 1997. Researchers studied 645 infants with birth defects and 330 without in a case-controlled study.

Mothers were considered overweight if they had a body-mass index between 25 and 30, and obese if their BMI, a height-weight ratio, was 30 or higher.

Dr. Richard J. Deckelbaum, director of Columbia University's Institute of Human Nutrition, said being overweight and obese are reversible risk factors that can lead to better outcomes for babies and mothers.

"It's an underappreciated link between overweight and obesity before pregnancy and outcomes for the infant and even for the mother during pregnancy," Deckelbaum said.

Source: Washington Post 2003

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