Obese or overweight women during their pregnancy are more likely to give birth to children with congenital heart defects, which include obstructive defects on the right side of the heart and defects in the tissue separating the heart’s 2 upper chambers.
As reported by the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), babies of those obese or overweight women were 18 percent more likely to develop congenital heart disease, and this could rise to as high as 30 percent if the mothers were severely obese. The findings of the study were published on October 1, 2009 in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology.
Being a kind of defect in one or more structures of the heart or blood vessels, congenital heart disease, occurs before birth. It is not only the most common types of birth defect but also the leading causes of illness, death and medical expenditures. It might produce symptoms at birth or during childhood. Sometimes, the symptoms might not appear until adulthood.
The researchers from CDC looked at the health of 6,440 infants with and 5,673 infants without congenital heart defects. The mothers of these infants were interviewed as part of the CDC’s National Birth Defects Prevention Study.
BMI (body mass index) was used to define overweight and obesity. Value between 25 and 29.9 is overweight, between 30 and 34.9 is moderately obese, and value of 35 and above is severe obesity. It was found that 10 out of 25 kinds of heart defects were linked to obesity while 5 out of 10 were associated with women who were overweight before pregnancy.
Important factors like maternal age and race-ethnicity were accounted for in the study. The researchers also excluded mothers who had diabetes before pregnancy, which is a strong risk factor for heart defects.
Meanwhile, the CDC strongly recommends that overweight women should consult and work with their doctors so as to have a healthy weight before pregnancy.