|September 2003 · Vol. 15, No. 9
Obesity in pregnancy: Risks and interventions by gestational stage
Gestational diabetes, preeclampsia, prolonged hospitalization—these are just a few of the complications that may affect obese gravidas. Here, the authors present a rundown of what to look for when treating this unique population.
Dr. Chauhan is director, maternal-fetal medicine, Spartanburg Regional Medical Center, Spartanburg, SC. Dr. Henrichs is Faculty Development Fellow, University of Pittsburgh Medical Center St. Margaret,
All obese patients have an increased risk of gestational diabetes and preeclampsia.
Deep venous thrombosis and its complications—which include maternal mortality—are seen more frequently in the obese patient.
Obesity is associated with an increased likelihood of induction of labor and cesarean delivery.
Obesity is a specific risk factor for several operative complications, including hemorrhage during surgery, postoperative wound infections, aspiration, and pulmonary embolism.
Specific interventions can help reduce the complications associated with obesity in pregnancy, provided physicians remain vigilant in applying the appropriate preventive measures.
Since one third of American women of childbearing age are overweight, obesity clearly has a major impact on the health of pregnant patients. And, as in the general population, the prevalence of this condition is escalating among gravidas. A 2001 study cited a 20% increase in mean maternal weights between 1980 and 1999.1