Obesity has reached critical levels worldwide, especially in developed nations. India despite being a developing nation is tipping the scales. It is estimated that by the year 2025, 20 % of the women will be obese. In India alone the number of obese women is at 20 million.These statistics is now extending to pregnant women leading to high risk pregnancies that can impact the health of both the mother and child, several studies have warned.
Obesity is linked with low fertility rates, and pregnancy in a obese mother is associated with adverse effects like preterm birth, gestational diabetes, pre-eclampsia, infections, caesarian sections and instrument births and postpartum hemorrhage.
This epidemic of obesity is visibly seen in antenatal clinics and labour rooms across the world which is a worrying trend impacting lives of mother and child. Lead author Dr. Patrick Catalano of Case Western Reserve University collaborated with an international team from Brazil, Hong Kong, and Australia are aiming to study the global impact of obesity on pregnancy.
Research has shown that obesity in mothers leads to a higher chance of giving birth to babies that are more developed for their age (weighing more than 4 kgs at birth). The researchers actively recommend that care must be taken before, during and after pregnancy. However, there is no standard protocol. To solve this issue, researchers have suggested a healthy diet during pregnancy and have at least an hour of moderate physical activity per day.
A previous trial conducted showed that when these lifestyle interventions were followed, the babies weighed less than 4 kgs. The team has recommended screening programmes to check for preeclampsia, gestational diabetes and fetal overgrowth. Towards the end of pregnancy, the delivery team should be made aware of a C-section/instrument delivery.
Obese mothers often find it difficult to breastfeed their newborns. There is also some evidence that the babies may present with high risk of obesity, type 2 diabetes, stroke,coronary heart disease and asthma in their later years.
What can be the best pregnancy care that be given to the mother? The best diet? How should this approach be in other parts of the world? How to manage medical treatment in obesity?
Researchers are trying to find the best way to solve this problem, to develop a well structured life course using public health instruments using the expertise of clinicians, nutritionists, allied health professionals to find answers for the well being of this and future generations.
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