Higher maternal body mass index (BMI) before or in early pregnancy is associated with an increased risk of stillbirth and infant death, says a new study.
And women who are severely obese having the greatest risk of during pregnancy.
There are million of stillbirths in the world each year and many more babies die within the first 28 days of life.
Several studies have suggested that greater maternal body mass index (BMI) before or during early pregnancy is associated with an increased risk of fetal death, stillbirth, perinatal death (stillbirth and early neonatal death), neonatal death, and infant death.
However, an optimal pre-pregnancy BMI to prevent fetal and infant death has not been established.
Dagfinn Aune of Imperial College London and colleagues conducted a review to examine the association between maternal BMI and risk of fetal death, stillbirth and infant death.
After a search of the medical literature, the researchers identified 38 studies which included more than 10,147 fetal deaths, more than 16,274 stillbirths, more than 4,311 perinatal deaths, 11,294 neonatal deaths and 4,983 infant deaths.
The researchers found that even modest increases in maternal BMI were associated with increased risk of fetal death, stillbirth, neonatal death, perinatal death, and infant death.
The greatest risk was observed in the category of severely obese women; women with a BMI of 40 had a two to three-fold increase in risk compared to women with a BMI of 20.
“Weight management guidelines for women who plan pregnancies should take these findings into consideration to reduce the burden of fetal deaths, stillbirths, and infant deaths,” the study says.
The study is pubished in the journal JAMA.
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