Researchers from the Karolinska Institutet in Sweden suggest that weight loss surgery in women may likely lead to an increased incidence of premature birth in case they get pregnant. These pregnancies may require more careful monitoring since they are considered as high-risk. The findings of the study are published in the British Medical Journal or BMJ.
Bariatric or weight loss surgery has recently increased in recent years. Most of these operations are conducted in women. This has resulted in an increase of births to women with a history of bariatric operations. The researchers are now examining how the operation may be affecting the pregnancy.
The study was based on data taken from the Swedish Medical Register and the Patient Register. It is considered to be the most extensive study ever done in this field to date. The study involved comparing 2,500 babies born between 1992 and 2009 to mothers who had previously undergone bariatric surgery. This was compared to 12,500 babies born to mothers who did not have such an operation. The pregnancies were compared individually, accounting for other factors such as the mothers’ BMI, age, educational background, smoking habits, previous births and others in both groups.
The researchers found out that babies from women with a history of bariatric surgery indicated lower average weights during delivery. About 5.2 percent of the babies in the group were considered small for their gestational age and were at least two standard deviations below normal. This is opposed to only 3.0 percent in the control group. In addition, more infants in the bariatric surgery group were born prematurely, with 9.7 percent of them born on the 37th week compared to only 6.1 percent in the control group. The researchers found no differences between the two groups with regards to stillbirth or neonatal death.
According to Dr. Olof Stephansson, obstetrician and Associate Professor at the Clinical Epidemiology Unit at Karolinska Institutet, “Mothers with the same BMI gave birth to babies of varying weights depending on whether or not they had undergone bariatric surgery, so there is some kind of association between the two. The mechanism behind how surgery influences fetal growth we don’t yet know, but we do know that people who have bariatric surgery are at increased risk of micronutrient deficiencies.”
Source: Karolinska Institutet. “Bariatric surgery can lead to premature birth.” ScienceDaily, 12 Nov. 2013. Web. 15 Nov. 2013