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Infant death higher in obese mothers
Wed, 06 Apr 2011 12:24:15 GMT
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Babies born to mothers who are obese during early pregnancy are at a significantly higher risk of dying in the first year of their life, a new study suggests.

Newcastle University researchers who studied nearly 41,000 pregnancies in northern England from 2003 to 2005 found that the risk of baby dying in the womb or in the first year after birth was twice in those born to women who were obese (with body mass index (BMI) of 30 or more) in early pregnancy.

According to the findings published in Human Reproduction, the lowest risk among the studied deliveries occurred in the children of mother who had a BMI of 23.

BMI, or body mass index, is a ratio of weight to height. Individuals with a BMI value of 25 to 29.9 are considered overweight while those with BMI of 30 or greater are classified as obese.

"There are likely to be a number of reasons why obesity is associated with fetal and infant death and we don't yet know the full story," said study co-author Judith Rankin. "For example, there is an increased risk of high blood pressure or diabetes developing during pregnancy. Understanding the risks associated with obesity are helpful for health-care professionals caring for pregnant women, so that additional monitoring can be provided as necessary."

"What's key is that women should be helped to achieve a healthy weight before they become pregnant or after the baby is born. Our research shows that this will give the baby the best possible start in life. Women should not try to lose weight during pregnancy, but should ensure they eat a balanced healthy diet," she suggested.

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