Hypertension and placental diseases are most common causes of stillbirth in obese women, study findsBMJ 2015; 351 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.h4658 (Published 02 September 2015) Cite this as: BMJ 2015;351:h4658
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Re: Hypertension and placental diseases are most common causes of stillbirth in obese women, study finds
The risk of stillbirth is common in obese women and doubles for babies born to women with hypertension and other complications (1). The University of Pittsburg Graduate School of Public Health analysis reveals obese women are almost twice as likely as their lean counterparts to have stillborn babies for several specific medical reasons. (2) From the study published in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, nearly 1 in 4 stillbirths may be linked to maternal obesity. According to the authors, obesity is the single most important risk factor for stillbirth in the general population. During pregnancy, obesity is linked to gestational diabetes, hypertension, thromboembolism, preeclampsia, delayed labor, increased caesarean and stillbirth. (3)
The US National Institutes of Health (NIH) supported the study that placental diseases and hypertension were the most common causes of stillbirth among obese women. (2)
Bodnar and her colleagues examined records from 658 stillbirths that occurred during 2003-10 at Magee-Women Hospital, which has one of the largest labor and delivery units in the country. Stillbirths were defined as cases where the baby had reached at least 16 weeks' gestation and showed no evidence of life after delivery. A panel of obstetricians reviewed each case and assigned a cause of the stillbirth. The mothers were classified as lean (normal weight or underweight), overweight, obese or severely obese based on their pre-pregnancy body mass index (BMI), a measure of weight versus height. The rate of stillbirth per 1,000 births ranged from 7.7 for lean women to 17.3 for severely obese women. (4)
Hypertension in the pregnant women, or maternal hypertension, placental diseases or disorders, fetal abnormalities, umbilical cord abnormalities and diabetes complications were all more common in the more obese women, (5) and these factors lead to abnormal fetal growth and stillbirth in obese women.
5. Coletta J and Simpson L. “Maternal medical disease and stillbirth” Clinical Obst and Gynecol 2010; 53(3):607-616.
Competing interests: No competing interests