It’s pretty much a fact of life that having a healthy lifestyle is better for you in every way, but a team of researchers has just pinpointed why it’s so important for women trying to conceive.
A team from the Karolinska Institutet, in Sweden, has found a link between a mother’s weight and birth defects in babies.
This study specifically focused on whether the risk of birth defects increased as the severity of the mother’s obesity rose.
As part of the research, published in the British Medical Journal, the team analysed data from more than 1.2 million live births between the years 2001 and 2014.
They then investigated the effects of the mother’s BMI, using the following standards of measurement:
- A mother with a BMI of less than 18.5 was classed as ‘underweight’
- A mother with a BMI of 18.5 to 24 was classed as of ‘normal weight’
- A mother with a BMI of 25 to 29 was classed as ‘overweight’
- A mother with a BMI of 30 to 34 was placed in the category of Class I obesity
- A mother with a BMI of 35 to 39 was placed in the category of Class II obesity
- A mother with a BMI of over 40 was placed in the category of Class III obesity
The results were interesting to say the least, showing incremental increases in the risk of birth defects as the mothers’ level of obesity rose.
So, while 3.4 per cent of babies born to mothers of ‘normal weight’ had a major congenital malformation; this rose to 3.5 per cent for ‘overweight’ mothers, and 3.8 per cent to mothers in obesity Class 1.
The greatest increases were seen in the babies of mothers in obesity Class II and Class III, where the rate of newborns with major congential defects rose to 4. 2 per cent and 4.7 per cent, respectively.
Explaining the findings, lead researcher Martina Perrson said: “We demonstrate increased risks of major malformations also in offspring of mothers with overweight, and risks progressively increase with a mother’s overweight and obesity severity.”
Previous studies have indicated that being overweight can affect your chances while trying to conceive, but this is the most detailed one yet.
What are your thoughts, mums?