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Obesity Increases Risk of Birth Defects

According to a recent government study published in Pediatrics Journal (May 2003), pregnant women who are obese face significantly increased risks of having babies with heart abnormalities and other birth defects.

Risk of Omphalocele At Birth

The study shows that obese women had three times the normal risk of giving birth to babies with a defect known as omphalocele, in which intestines or other abdominal organs protrude through the navel.

Obesity Associated With Bad Diet

The exact causes for the links between obesity and birth defects are uncertain but researchers believe that they may include nutritional deficiencies in women with poor eating habits or diabetes, which is common in obesity and is known to increase risks for birth defects.

Study Method

The authors examined data from births in a five-county area of metropolitan Atlanta between January 1993 and August 1997. Researchers studied 645 infants with birth defects and 330 without in a case-controlled study.

Obesity and Overweight – Risk Factors For Infant and Mother

Dr. Richard J. Deckelbaum, director of the Institute of Human Nutrition at Columbia University, said being overweight and obese are reversible risk factors that can cause health risks for babies and mothers.

“It’s an underappreciated link between overweight and obesity before pregnancy and outcomes for the infant and even for the mother during pregnancy,” Deckelbaum said.

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