Bariatric surgery greatly helps in reducing the risk of hypertensive disorders in pregnancy, a new study has said.
Hypertensive disorders in pregnancy include gestational hypertension, preeclampsia and eclampsia.
"We have long known that women who have these blood pressure disorders are not only at an increased risk for pregnancy complications in themselves and their babies, but also for chronic diseases in the future," says Wendy L. Bennett, M.D., M.P.H., assistant professor of medicine at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and a study leader. "Can we prevent the development of these disorders in pregnancy with bariatric surgery? These findings suggest the answer may be 'yes.'" Results of the research are published online in the British Medical Journal.
To reach the conclusion, Bennett and her colleagues looked at five years of data from Blue Cross Blue Shield insurance records and identified 585 women who had bariatric surgery and delivered a baby. The sample included 269 women who had babies some time before having weight-loss surgery and 316 who had the surgery before getting pregnant. More than 80 percent of the women chose gastric bypass surgery over other, less common weight-loss operations.
The researchers found an 80 percent reduction in the risk of preeclampsia and eclampsia among women who had surgery before pregnancy, along with a 74 percent reduction in the risk of gestational hypertension and a 61 percent reduction in the risk of chronic hypertension in pregnancy, all of which are known to cause pregnancy complications.
Bennett cautions that not every obese woman is a candidate for bariatric surgery. And not every obese woman wants to undergo the operation, which itself carries risks of complications. Moreover, insurance companies don't always cover the surgery, and when they do, it's typically not unless a woman has a body-mass index (BMI) of more than 40 or a BMI of more than 35 with a co-morbidity such as diabetes or sleep apnea, she says.