‘Asphyxia more common in babies born to obese women’

21 May 2014

The risk of asphyxia - an oxygen deficit - at birth is higher in babies born to overweight or obese women, suggests a new study published in the journal PLOS Medicine.

The research team place a great value on their findings because of the high prevalence of obesity worldwide. They suggest preventing women wishing to conceive from falling into this category is important to the health of their children.

These conclusions were drawn by analysing all single births that took place between 1992 and 2010 listed on the Swedish medical birth registry, which equated to 1.7 million babies.

According to the results, the proportion of infants with the lowest of Apgar scores (a measure of oxygen deficit at birth) was greater in babies born to overweight and obese mothers.

Researchers discovered that rates of low scores increased with the maternal Body Mass Index (BMI). Being overweight, with a BMI of 25 to 29.9 was linked to a 55 per cent high risk of an oxygen deficit and being classed as morbidly obese, having a BMI of 40 or above, was associated with a three-fold increase in risk.

The authors wrote: “This population-based cohort study from Sweden clearly demonstrates increased risks of perinatal asphyxia-related complications with increasing maternal BMI in infants delivered at term."

“Prevention of overweight and obesity in women of reproductive age is an important strategy to improve perinatal health."

Posted by Edward Bartel

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