Ask the Doctor: Overweight and Pregnant?

August 26, 2011 12:00 AM

Q: Does being overweight increase risk of stillborn birth?  How can I diet and make sure my baby is getting enough nutrients?
A: The actual number of stillbirth’s in the US attributed to being overweight or obese is not certain. It does appear that although the total rate for stillborns has decreased in the US we still have over 27,000 deaths per year. Women who are overweight or obese are at higher risk for not carrying a fetus to term.

Obese women are more likely to have diabetes and hypertension which are contributors to stillbirth. In addition, there appears to be an association between high pre-pregnancy body mass index and fetal death, allowing for the effects of gestational age, weight gain, and maternal diseases in pregnancy. The risk goes up when a woman’s BMI is over 30 but even if women are only overweight it appears that they are at a higher risk than a normal weight woman before pregnancy.
This is a very important piece of data in that if a woman desires to have a child, reaching a healthy weight before the pregnancy is a worthwhile goal. If you are overweight or obese and find out you are pregnant there are some things you can do to be as healthy as you can be. First, understand that going on a restrictive diet may actually do more harm than the higher risk of being overweight. You will want to work with your obstetrician to make sure you are on a healthy diet and monitoring your weight so you do not add excessive weight during your pregnancy. I suggest eating healthy low glycemic foods that prevent overtaxing your bodies ability to use glucose and lean proteins and watch saturated fats.

-Dr. Wayne Andersen

Dr. Wayne Andersen is the Medical Director for Take Shape for Life Wellness program. He is board certified in internal medicine and specializes in weight management. Dr. Andersen graduated from University of Florida.


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