Mother's weight loss surgery associated with premature birth

Women who undergo surgery for weight loss may put their future children at risk for potentially harmful health effects, Medical Daily reported.

In a new study published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ), Swedish researchers have found that babies born to mothers who had bariatric surgery may have a greater chance of being born premature and being small for their gestational age.

"The mechanism behind how surgery influences fetal growth, we don't yet know, but we do know that people who have bariatric surgery are at increased risk of micronutrient deficiencies," Dr. Olof Stephansson, obstetrician and associate professor of the clinical epidemiology unit at Karolinska Institutet, said in a statement.

For the study, Stephansson and his colleagues analyzed 2,500 babies born between 1992 and 2009, whose mothers had all undergone weight-loss surgery.  The babies were compared to a control group of 12,500 infants, whose mothers did not have surgery.

Of the babies who had been born to moms who had undergone surgery, 5.2 percent were considered small for their gestational age – as opposed to 3 percent of the babies born to moms who didn’t have surgery.  Additionally, only 4.2 percent of the babies whose mothers had surgery were considered adequately sized, compared to 7.3 percent of the control group.

Furthermore, 9.7 percent of the babies whose mothers had a surgical history were born early –  before the 37th week of pregnancy – compared to 6.1 percent of the babies whose moms had not had surgery.

"Mothers with the same BMI gave birth to babies of varying weights depending on whether or not they had undergone bariatric surgery, so there is some kind of association between the two," Stephansson said.

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