Overweight and obesity during pregnancy can cause health problems for your baby. You know that it’s not great for your health, but it can affect your baby’s well being, too. While most babies of overweight and obese women are born healthy, problems can include:
• birth defects, including neural tube defects (NTDs) which are defects of the brain and spine
• preterm birth
• injury, like shoulder dystocia, during birth because the baby is large
• Death after birth
• Being obese during childhood
Dr. Patrick M. Catalano, a highly renowned obstetrician, professor and researcher has focused on nutrition and metabolic conditions before and during pregnancy and how those conditions affect a fetus’ growth and how much body fat it gains. His research has shown that infants born to obese mothers and mothers who have diabetes are heavier at birth and have a higher risk of developing metabolic disorders, including insulin resistance, a precursor to diabetes.
Dr. Kathleen Maher Rasmussen and her students broke new ground in understanding the threat being overweight at conception has on successful breastfeeding. We know that breast milk is the best food for babies during the first year of life. It helps them grow healthy and strong. Dr. Rasmussen’s work on over-nutrition found that there is delayed onset of milk secretion and shorter breastfeeding in women who were significantly overweight.
If a woman starts pregnancy at a healthy weight, it can not only lower the risk of preterm birth and birth defects, but can give her baby a healthier start that can have life-long benefits.