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Women who are overweight while pregnant have an increased chance of having a baby with cerebral palsy, according to a new study that researched over a million babies during an almost-decade time span.
According to Dr. Eduardo Villamor, professor of epidemiology at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, women who are overweight when pregnant are at heightened chance of having babies who develop cerebral palsy, and the more obese the mom is, the higher the chances.
Additionally, full-term births can also increase the risk. Researchers noted that babies born full-term by mothers who were obese, accounted for 71% of all cerebral palsy cases studied, but the percentage for pre-term babies with obese mother was not near as high.
“The overall risk of cerebral palsy was about 2 cases per 1,000 babies born. Women with the most severe forms of obesity who have babies born at full term may have about twice that risk,” Villamor said.
Researchers studied more than a million babies born to Swedish women that they followed over an 8-year time span. Villamor pointed out however, that maternal obesity doesn’t cause cerebral palsy; in just increases the chances.
“Although the effect of maternal obesity on cerebral palsy may seem small compared with other risk factors, the association is of public health relevance due to the large proportion of women who are overweight or obese worldwide,” Villamor said.
Being overweight during pregnancy also increases the risk of additional medical conditions. For instance, overweight pregnant women are at risk of developing gestational diabetes, high blood pressure, and blood clotting, all of which can negatively affect an unborn infant. In some instances, the aforementioned health risks can lead to miscarriage and stillbirth.
While there still isn’t enough evidence to show that weight loss before pregnancy can reduce the chances of a mom having a child with cerebral palsy, it’s been shown to offer numerous health benefits
“Although we don’t know yet if this also applies to cerebral palsy, weight loss before pregnancy among overweight and obese women may offer some health benefits during and after pregnancy,” Villamor stated.
Dr. David Roye, executive director of the Weinberg Family Cerebral Palsy Center at NYC’s Columbia University, said that it’s crucial for women to try and get in the best shape possible prior to getting pregnant, which will not only help reduce health risks, but will also increase the chances of labor and delivery going smoother.
It would be wrongheaded for someone, particularly after they became pregnant, to decide they are going to lose weight — that’s not a good plan. You should be at your best and fittest before you go into the pregnancy.”
If you need additional information regarding healthy weight, pregnancy, and cerebral palsy. consult with your physician, who can likely refer to you to a professional who can assist you with food choices before pregnancy. If you have any questions or concerns, feel free to contact us for assistance.