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Obesity raises risk of complications in pregnancy, study shows

2009-07-17 08:10:07 GMT2009-07-17 16:10:07 (Beijing Time)  Xinhua English

LONDON, July 16 (Xinhua) -- Expectant mothers who are obese are much more likely to suffer from minor complications such as heartburn and chest infections during pregnancy, a study from the University of Edinburgh said.

The researchers published their results Thursday in the British Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology.

The study found that obese mothers-to-be were nearly 10 times more likely to suffer from chest infections, and more than twice as likely to suffer from headaches and heartburn, compared with pregnant women of a healthy weight.

They studied the records of more than 650 pregnant women, with nearly half of them being overweight or obese at the beginning of their pregnancy.

Obese women also had a more than three-fold higher risk of suffering from a condition known as symphysis-pubis dysfunction, which affects the pelvic joints and may cause walking difficulties if severe.

"Although symptoms such as heartburn are common and generally perceived to be benign, they can still have a major impact on the quality of life for pregnant women and can be linked to more serious conditions," said Rebecca Reynolds, the leading researcher of the study.

"What may be termed as minor complications can make a pregnancy much more uncomfortable and are also associated with higher treatment costs," she said.

The costs of treating minor complications in obese women were estimated to be more than three times that of treating women of healthy weight, according to the study.

Obesity during pregnancy also increases the risk of more serious conditions such as gestational diabetes, pre-eclampsia and the need for a caesarean section. More than one-third of pregnancy-related deaths occur in mothers who are obese, it said.

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