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Abnormal BMIs can complicate pregnancy

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By Healthday
Sunday, Sept. 22, 2013, 3:21 p.m.

Pregnant women with a body-mass index that is too low or too high are at increased risk for complications and hospitalization, according to a Scottish study.

BMI is a measurement of body fat based on height and weight.

The findings ­— published Wednesday in BJOG: An International Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology — highlight the need for strategies to reduce obesity, said the study's co-author, Dr. Fiona Denison of Queens's Medical Research Institute in Edinburgh.

“Longer-term benefits of reducing maternal obesity will show improvements, not only in the health outcomes of mothers and their babies, but the workload and cost to current maternity services,” she said in a journal news release.

Researchers examined data from nearly 110,000 pregnant women in Scotland who were divided into five groups based on BMI: underweight, BMI of less than 18.5; normal weight, BMI of 18.5 to 24.9; overweight, BMI of 25 to 29.9; obese, BMI of 30 to 35; and severely obese, BMI of more than 35.

The risk of pregnancy complications among women increased with BMI, according to the study.

Severely obese women were three times more likely than normal-weight women to have high blood pressure (7.8 percent vs. 2.6 percent) and gestational diabetes (3 percent vs. 0.1 percent).

Compared to normal-weight women, those in all other weight categories had more and longer hospitalizations after birth. The risk of hospitalization was 8 percent higher for underweight women, 16 percent higher for overweight women and 45 percent higher for obese women.

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