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    What links stillbirth and obesity?


    Maternal obesity is known to be an important, modifiable cause of stillbirth and a new study suggests that there may be multiple reasons why the two conditions are linked Published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, the findings are from a case-cohort study by investigators from Magee-Womens Research Institute and McGill University.

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    Supported by the National Institutes of Health, the researchers randomly selected 1829 singleton deliveries from a possible 68,437 eligible deliveries at Magee-Womens Hospital in Pittsburgh from 2003 to 2010. They augmented the sample with all remaining stillbirth cases for a total of 658. Probable causes of the stillbirth were classified based on probably cause(s) of death, including maternal medical conditions, obstetric complications, fetal abnormalities, placental diseases, and infection. Clinical experts reviewed medical records, placental tissue slides and pathology reports, and fetal postmortem reports of all stillbirths.

    The rate of stillbirth among lean mothers was 7.7 per 1000 live-born and stillborn infants versus 10.6 per 1000 live-born and stillborn infants in overweight mothers. Rates were even higher among the obese and severely obese mothers: 13.9 and 17.3 per 1000 live-born and stillborn infants, respectively.

    Women who were severely obese had a two-fold risk of stillbirth in comparison to lean women; risk was just slightly less in obese women. The researchers found an association between maternal obesity and severe obesity and stillbirths from umbilical cord abnormalities, fetal anomalies, hypertension, and placental diseases. Body mass index was found to not be related to placental abruption, obstetric conditions, or infection.

    The researchers concluded that a multitude of mechanisms appear to tie obesity to stillbirth. They believe that targeting hypertension and placental diseases could be the best interventions to reduce the risk of stillbirth in obese mothers.

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    Judith M. Orvos, ELS
    Judith M. Orvos, ELS, is a a BELS-certified medical writer and editor and an editorial consultant for Contemporary OB/GYN.
    Miranda Hester
    Ms. Hester is Content Specialist with Contemporary OB/GYN and Contemporary Pediatrics.


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