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ARS Home » Southeast Area » Little Rock, Arkansas » Arkansas Children's Nutrition Center » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #341498

Title: Obesity and pregnancy: Mechanisms of short term and long term adverse consequences for mother and child


Submitted to: British Medical Journal
Publication Type: Review Article
Publication Acceptance Date: 12/5/2016
Publication Date: 2/8/2017
Citation: Catalano, P.M., Shankar, K. 2017. Obesity and pregnancy: Mechanisms of short term and long term adverse consequences for mother and child. British Medical Journal. doi:10.1136/bmj.j1.

Interpretive Summary:

Technical Abstract: Obesity is the most common medical condition in women of reproductive age. Obesity during pregnancy has short term and long term adverse consequences for both mother and child. Obesity causes problems with infertility, and in early gestation it causes spontaneous pregnancy loss and congenital anomalies. Metabolically, obese women have increased insulin resistance in early pregnancy, which becomes manifest clinically in late gestation as glucose intolerance and fetal overgrowth. At term, the risk of cesarean delivery and wound complications is increased. Postpartum, obese women have an increased risk of venous thromboembolism, depression, and difficulty with breast feeding. Because 50-60% of overweight or obese women gain more than recommended by Institute of Medicine gestational weight guidelines, postpartum weight retention increases future cardiometabolic risks and prepregnancy obesity in subsequent pregnancies. Neonates of obese women have increased body fat at birth, which increases the risk of childhood obesity. Although there is no unifying mechanism responsible for the adverse perinatal outcomes associated with maternal obesity, on the basis of the available data, increased prepregnancy maternal insulin resistance and accompanying hyperinsulinemia, inflammation, and oxidative stress seem to contribute to early placental and fetal dysfunction. We will review the pathophysiology underlying these data and try to shed light on the specific underlying mechanisms. Obesity in the mother increases the risk of obesity and other metabolic diseases in the offspring. This review article summaries key clinical and epidemiological studies that suggest strong associations between overweight and obesity during pregnancy and offspring health outcomes. We also review the existing evidence supporting the role of excessive gestational weight gain, This review article summarizes several mechanisms that explain maternal obesity-associated programming and also summarizes the present state of clinical interventions that have been utilized to examine effects of maternal obesity on offspring health and metabolism.