Obesity In Mothers Causes Birth Defects

Hop on the scale before planning for baby

By Caitlin Millat
|  Tuesday, Feb 10, 2009  |  Updated 5:30 PM EDT
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Obesity In Mothers Causes Birth Defects

Peter Dazeley

A new study shows that obese women are more likely to give birth to babies with spinal bifida or other defects.

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Trying for a baby? A new study shows you should check your weight first.

Obese women are much more likely to give birth to babies with heart and bone defects, according to a British study published this week.

Women who were clinically obese during pregnancy were twice as likely to have babies with spinal bifida, a disease caused by the failure of the spine to close, or finish growing, before birth.

Defects like cleft palate, cleft lip and hydrocephaly — a fluid buildup in the brain — were also more common amongst babies born to overweight women, the Newcastle University study found. Heart defects were also slightly more prevalent in the children of obese mothers.

Obesity is a proven cause of Type 2 diabetes and previous studies have linked obesity in mothers to the mortality rate among infants, USA Today reports.

More than 2,000 women were profiled for the study, featured in the Feb. 11 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association. Study author Judith Rankin of Newcastle University included 39 studies in the published review.

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