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Competitiveness / Healthand Welbeing



A new Swedish study show the link between obesity and premature birth

Tuesday, 11 June 2013
A new Swedish study has shown clearly the increased risks in obesity and premature birth. According to it, a third of all pregnant women who are overweight or obese are enrolled in prenatal care.

The study as reported on Swedish television (SVT), shows that it is much more common for overweight women to give birth prematurely than normal-weight women. Obesity can lead to the child being born extremely early - even after 27 weeks gestation or even earlier.

Among mothers with severe obesity, that is those with a BMI between 35 and 39, the risk of extreme premature birth is twice that of normal-weight women. For extremely obese women with a BMI of 40 or more, the risk was tripled, the study shows.

"We found that the risk of medically justified premature births could explain part of the increase in risk. Above all, it was severe preeclampsia that justified the need to terminate pregnancy for the sake of the mother's and baby's health. The obesity-related risk of spontaneous premature delivery was largely limited to extremely premature birth," says Professor Sven Cnattingius of the Karolinska Intitutet to Swedish television.

The study is based on data from 1.5 million births, collected in the population-based Swedish Medical Birth Register, from 1992 until 2010. Data on maternal weight and height made it possible to calculate BMI (known as Body Mass Index), a simple measure of body mass.
A BMI between 18.5 and 24.9 is considered normal weight, overweight is BMI 25-29.9 and counted as obesity, BMI is around 30 or higher.

In Sweden, some 100000 children are born each year. Of these, only about 250 are born extremely prematurely - more than 12 weeks before the expected date of delivery. About 500 babies are born very prematurely - 8-12 weeks before scheduled delivery - and 4,500 are born moderately premature, which means 4-8 weeks in advance. Premature birth is the single most important factor for infant mortality, morbidity in the neonatal period, and also long-term risks for the newborn.
by Team

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