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Mother and baby risks associated with obesity in pregnancy: a systematic review of reviews

Conference contribution
Authors Jamile Marchi
Marie Berg
Anna Dencker
Ellinor K. Olander
Cecily Begley
Published in 16th Healthcare Interdisciplinary Research Conference, 4 – 5 November 2015, at Trinity College Dublin, School of Nursing and Midwifery
Publication year 2015
Published at University of Gothenburg Centre for person-centred care (GPCC)
Institute of Health and Care Sciences
Language en
Keywords Maternal obesity, pregnancy
Subject categories Health Sciences


• Aim To synthesise the findings from all systematic reviews conducted on maternal obesity in order to identify the risk of adverse outcomes on mother and baby. • Background Obesity in pregnancy is linked to a number of maternal and foetal complications. The prevalence of obesity in pregnancy (20-33%) has increased worldwide and has become a central public health issue. • Search and review methodology A protocol was developed a priori. Reviews that compared pregnant women of healthy weight with those who were obese (BMI >30), and reported on a health outcome for mother and/or baby, were eligible for inclusion. PubMed, CINAHL, Cochrane and Scopus databases were searched. Reviews were selected by inclusion criteria, and quality-assured using AMSTAR, independently by all authors, and checked by a second reviewer. • Findings Twenty-two systematic reviews, from a total of 573 original studies, met inclusion and quality criteria. Women with obesity in pregnancy were at increased risk of having an instrumental birth, caesarean section, surgical site infection, depression, gestational hypertension, diabetes mellitus and pre-eclampsia compared to women of healthy weight. Babies of women with obesity were at increased risk of preterm birth, being large-for-gestational-age, having fetal defects or congenital anomalies, perinatal death and neonatal death. Obesity in pregnancy was also associated with lower breastfeeding initiation rates and breastfeeding for a shorter time. • Conclusions and Implications This is the first review of reviews summarising outcomes associated with maternal obesity. The results show the negative impact obesity in pregnancy has on maternal and neonatal outcomes. Women need support to lose weight prior to becoming pregnant, and to avoid excessive weight gain in pregnancy. Additional reviews investigating factors that help women to lose weight before pregnancy and maintain healthy weight during pregnancy are warranted.

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