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Bariatric Surgery May Reduce Pregnancy Risks for Obese Women
Approximately half of the pregnant women in the United States today are either overweight or obese, up from about 25 percent four decades ago, and making them at an increased risk for pre-eclampsia, hypertensive disorder and blood clots, not to mention complications from a C-section. In a study published today in the British Medical Journal, researchers found that these complications can be significantly reduced through bariatric surgery prior to conception.

Bariatric surgery is a procedure commonly performed on those who are dangerously obese to induce weight loss. Gastric bypass surgery helps to achieve weight loss by creating a small stomach pouch with a stapler device and connecting it to the distal small intestine. The upper part of the small intestine is then re-attached in a Y-shape. After the surgery, overeating is prevented by having limited stomach capacity that causes nausea and vomiting when capacity is exceeded. For many patients who are obese, the health benefits of gastric bypass surgery may far outweigh the risks of the procedure. Research suggests that bariatric surgery can actually increase the life expectancy of many who suffer from obesity, meaning they could be parenting much longer into the future than without the surgery.

This new study, conducted by Wendy L. Bennett and colleagues at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, analyzed the medical records of females of childbearing age who underwent weight-loss surgery either before delivering a child or after delivery. "Women who delivered after surgery had a 75 percent lower odds of a diagnosis of a hypertensive disorder in pregnancy than women who had a delivery before surgery," the study’s authors reported. There was also a 61 percent reduction in the risk of chronic hypertension and 74 percent decrease in gestational diabetes.

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