Obesity and Pregnancy
There is a growing body of evidence documenting the links between maternal health conditions, such as obesity and chronic diseases, and increased risks before, during, and after birth.
Many pregnant women are overweight, obese, or have diabetes, all of which can have negative effects on the fetus, as well as the mother. According to CDC, in 2002 approximately 50 percent of women of child-bearing age (between 18 and 44) were either overweight or obese; 3 percent experienced high blood pressure and 9 percent had diabetes.
Not only are obesity and chronic diseases unsafe for the mother and the fetus, but treatment and hospital stays are more expensive and complicated for pregnant women who are obese. CDC and Kaiser Permanente Northwest Center for Health Research found in a recent study that obesity during pregnancy is associated with an increased use of health care services and longer hospital stays. The study, which consisted of over 13,000 pregnancies, found that obese women required more outpatient medications, were given more obstetrical ultrasounds, were less likely to see nurse midwives or nurse practitioners in favor of physicians, and Cesarean delivery rates were 45.2 percent for extremely obese women, compared with 21.3 percent for women of normal weight.