An analysis of the prepregnancy body mass index of more than 79,000 women in eight counties of Western New York who became pregnant between 1999 and 2003 found that the number of women who were overweight when they became pregnant increased by 11 percent and the number who were obese increased by 8 percent over that time period.
There was a corresponding decrease in the percentage of women who were normal weight or underweight in the prepregnancy period over those five years, results showed. The shift applied regardless of age, ethnicity (black or white), education level, type of insurance, previous live births, urbanization status, median family income and smoking status.
The study appears in the current (Dec. 2005) issue of the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology.
The results are thought to apply to the population-at-large because they are consistent with findings in at least three previous papers and because of the large sample size.
"Cumulatively, 40.5 percent of all patients had prepregnancy BMIs in the overweight and obese categories in 2003 compared with 37.1 percent in 1999," said John Yeh, M.D., lead author who is professor and chair of the Department of Gynecology-Obstetrics, UB School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences. "This represents a relative 9.2 percent increase over five years of the study.
"This increase in obesity is important to the obstetrician and the patient because obesity can be a high-risk situation in a pregnant woman," said Yeh. "Obese patients who become pregnant are at increased risk of developing gestational diabetes, pregnancy-related hypertension, preeclampsia, neonatal death and labor complications."