Weight-loss surgery cuts risk of major birth defects

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Children born to women who underwent gastric bypass surgery before becoming pregnant had a lower risk of major birth defects than children born to women who had severe obesity at the start of their pregnancy. That’s according to a matched cohort study by researchers at Karolinska Institutet and Örebro University published in the scientific journal JAMA. The findings indicate that weight-loss and improved blood sugar control could reduce the risk of major birth defects.

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Martin Neovius, professor at the Department of Medicine in Solna, Karolinska Institutet. Photo: Kate Gabor.

Obesity and poor blood sugar control have in previous studies been linked to an increased risk of health complications for both mothers and their infants. Other studies have shown that weight-loss surgery may increase the risk of various nutrient deficiencies, including iron and folate which are important for fetal development. There have been concerns dating back to the 1980s that bariatric surgery could increase the risk of major birth defects. In recent years, weight-loss surgery has increased significantly, and about 1.5 percent of all babies born in Sweden today are delivered by mothers who have had bariatric surgery.

Missing ALT text.

Martin Neovius, professor at the Department of Medicine in Solna, Karolinska Institutet. Photo: Kate Gabor.

Obesity and poor blood sugar control have in previous studies been linked to an increased risk of health complications for both mothers and their infants. Other studies have shown that weight-loss surgery may increase the risk of various nutrient deficiencies, including iron and folate which are important for fetal development. There have been concerns dating back to the 1980s that bariatric surgery could increase the risk of major birth defects. In recent years, weight-loss surgery has increased significantly, and about 1.5 percent of all babies born in Sweden today are delivered by mothers who have had bariatric surgery.

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