Obesity increases Caesarean risk

Tags: obesity , pregnancy

Women overweight before their pregnancy are more at risk of needing a Caesarean, research suggests.

Norwegian researchers found those with a pre-pregnancy body mass index (BMI) of 40 or more had the biggest risk of Caesarean section (C-section) or vacuum extraction delivery.

But their results showed those with a BMI of between 25 and 29.9 before their pregnancy, classifying them as overweight, and above 30 - putting them in the obese category - were also at higher risk of C-section.

Women gaining 16kg or more while carrying their baby, regardless of their BMI prior to pregnancy, also saw a significant increase in their risk of needing forceps, C-section or vacuum extraction during the delivery of their baby. Obese women were found to put on significantly less weight during pregnancy, although their babies tended to be bigger, the researchers found.

The findings are published in the Nordic Federation of Societies of Obstetrics and Gynecology's Acta Obstetricia et Gynecologica Scandinavica  journal.

Previous Norwegian studies suggest that obesity among women of child-bearing age has increased by up to three times in recent years.  
The latest study's lead author Dr Nils-Halvdan Morken, of the University of Bergen, said: "With such alarming rates of obesity understanding its impact is an important health issue, particularly for women in child-bearing years.

"The World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates that globally some 1.4 billion adults are overweight with more than half a billion classified as obese.

Copyright Press Association 2013

back to top

Ask the expert

Got a question?
Our team of medical experts are ready to help.