WASHINGTON (WUSA9) - A new study conducted in Sweden concludes that women who are overweight or obese during pregnancy are at greater risk for preterm and extreme preterm delivery.
In recent years, maternal obesity has replaced smoking as the number one preventable risk for adverse pregnancies. Maternal obesity can cause a series of health risks in both the mother and child. One of the most severe risks is preterm births, which is the delivery of a live infant before the age of 37 weeks.
Karolinska Institutet's Sven Cnattingius, M.D., Ph.D. lead the study that examined the relationship between early pregnancy BMI and risks of preterm birth. Cnattingius studied 1.5 million births in Sweden between the years of 1992 and 2010.
The risks of preterm delivery were broken down into three different categories: extremely high risk, 22-27 weeks; very high risk, 28-31 weeks; and moderately high risk, 32-36 weeks. This was compared to BMI of women who were placed in groups based on weight class: underweight, normal, overweight, obese grade 1, obese grade 2, obese grade 3.
Results showed that women in weight classes such as obese 2 and 3, which is BMI of 25 - <35, were more likely to face weight related health risks such as preterm delivery. Compared to normal weight women, whose BMI is 18.5-25, obese women had 0.2 to 0.3 percent higher chance of extremely preterm delivery, and 0.3 to 0.4 percent higher chance of higher chance of very preterm delivery.
Increase of spontaneous extremely preterm delivery was also shown in women with BMI greater than 30. Spontaneous delivery is associated with premature contractions or premature rupture of fetal membranes.
In 2008, 0.6 percent of all births were preterm in the U.S. These births accounted for 25% of all infant deaths.
Researchers concluded that preterm infants face risks of health, survival, and even death. They have decided that it is extremely important to find out which populations face this problem in order to create ways to target and help the at risk mothers.
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