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Pre-pregnancy weight gain raises risks

Published September 29, 2006

LONDON - Women who gain as little as 7 pounds between pregnancies can put themselves and their babies at risk, says a study of thousands of women.

Researchers found that gaining weight during that interval - not during the pregnancy itself - raised the risk of such complications as diabetes and high blood pressure during the second pregnancy, and even stillbirth.

Pregnant women with diabetes or high blood pressure are at risk of convulsions or organ damage, which in severe cases can be fatal.

The results provide new evidence that overweight or obese women who plan to become pregnant should lose weight, and that women with healthy weights should avoid packing on pounds before pregnancy.

The work was reported Thursday in the British medical journal the Lancet by Dr. Eduardo Villamor of the Harvard School of Public Health and Dr. Sven Cnattingius of the Karolinska Institute in Sweden. They examined records of more than 150,000 Swedish women who delivered two children between 1992 and 2001.

"It is the first study to lend support to a causal relationship between obesity and adverse outcomes," said Dr. Mario Merialdi, a reproductive health specialist at the World Health Organization, who had no ties to the study.

[Last modified September 29, 2006, 01:37:00]

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