It’s no secret that being overweight or obese is hazardous to your health. But what many overweight and obese women don’t consider is the effect that this may have on their unborn child during pregnancy.
In the May 2009 issue of the Journal of the American Dietetic Association, both the American Dietetic Association and the American Society for Nutrition collaborated on an article advocating for diet and nutrition counseling for obese and overweight women of childbearing age. This is an attempt by the organizations to decrease the number of overweight and obese women who become pregnant because of the detrimental effects pregnancy can have on both the mother and baby.
“Among obese women, who already have aberrations in glucose and lipid metabolism, the further adjustments induced by hormonal changes in pregnancy create a metabolic milieu that enhances the risk for metabolic disorders such as gestational diabetes mellitus and preeclampsia,” state the authors, Anna Maria Siega-Riz, PhD, RD, LDN, assistant professor of maternal and child health at the University of North Carolina; and Janet C. King, PhD, senior scientist at Children’s Hospital and Research Center in Oakland, Calif.
Some of the risks to the baby, according to the article, are: a higher prevalence of congenital anomalies, spina bifida and anencephaly (twice as common if the mother is overweight or obese), oral clefts, heart anomalies, hydrocephaly and abdominal wall abnormalities.
Because of these potentially devastating side effects of becoming pregnant while overweight or obese, the article recommends counseling before, during and after pregnancy for all women in this category. Their goal is to educate women about the risks and complications posed to fertility, their children and themselves, and to better prepare them to deal with these issues.
Are you overweight or obese? Find out by calculating calculating your body mass index (BMI), an estimate of overall body fat based on your height and weight.