Babies born to overweight or obese women have a high risk of suffering from birth asphyxia, or experiencing oxygen deficit at birth, compared to normal weight women, a joint study conducted by Swedish and US researchers which has been published in PLOS Medicine reveals.
These findings are important given the high prevalence of overweight and obesity worldwide, and suggest that preventing women of reproductive age from becoming overweight or obese is important to the health of their children.
The authors, led by Dr. Martina Persson from the Swedish medical university Karolinska Institutet, reached these conclusions by using information from the Swedish medical birth registry (a database including nearly all the births occurring in Sweden since 1973) for all births (of single babies) that took place between 1992 to 2010—comprising over 1.7 million births.
Although this study is limited by the lack of data on the effects of clinical interventions and neonatal resuscitation efforts that may have been performed at the time of birth, these findings suggest that early detection of perinatal asphyxia is particularly relevant among infants of overweight and obese women although more studies are necessary to confirm these results in other populations.
The authors say:" this population-based cohort study from Sweden clearly demonstrates increased risks of perinatal asphyxia-related complications with increasing maternal [Body Mass Index] in infants delivered at term."
They continue: "Prevention of overweight and obesity in women of reproductive age is an important strategy to improve perinatal health."