Obesity raises pre-eclampsia risk

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Obesity raises pre-eclampsia risk

Women who are obese (who have a BMI of 30 or more) face greater risks in pregnancy - including a risk of developing pre-eclampsia that is almost 6 times that of women of normal weight. And the risk rises with increasing weight.

Pre-eclampsia is a condition that causes high blood pressure and raised protein levels in the mother’s urine – both signs of difficulty with the pregnancy. It is a relatively common problem, affecting between 3-10% of pregnancies worldwide. Sometimes it may cause the baby grow slowly and may lead to the life-threatening condition of eclampsia. The only way to stop pre-eclampsia is for the baby to be delivered, which can sometimes mean a premature birth.

Researchers from Kings College, London looked at the pregnancies of 385 women from the UK and the Netherlands. All the women were first time mothers and were obese.

It was found that:

  • Obese first-time mothers had an 11.7 per cent risk of developing pre-eclampsia.
  • In comparison, healthy-weight mothers have a 2 per cent risk of developing pre-eclampsia
  • The risk of pre-eclampsia increased as a woman's BMI (body mass index, a measure of weight) increased.

The study was published in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology.

Topics: Research, Lifestyle, High blood pressure

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