Am I at a Greater Risk?

RisksIn the past few years there have been more and studies done about overweight women and pregnancy and some of the reports can sound pretty scary if you’re not familiar with them. For example, one study showed that overweight women were at twice the risk of having a baby with a heart defect. Well that sounds pretty scary all right, but what that report doesn’t tell you is that one in every 125 to 150 average weight woman will have a baby with these problems (less than 1%). So if you double this risk it means 2 in every 125 to 150 overweight women will face this. Those are pretty low odds.

There are some things that being overweight increases the risks for, but the important thing to remember is that all women come to pregnancy with their own risk factors. Some women are at genetically at risk for Tay-Sachs disease and women who smoke are at risk for low birth weight babies. None of us are perfect and something can go wrong in any pregnancy. What you should know though is that it is most likely that your pregnancy will go well and you will have a happy and healthy baby.

Your health care provider will talk with you about some important screening tests available to you, to help determine your risks for certain problems. Ask a lot of questions and be informed, but always take your health care provider’s advice seriously.

Some of the things you might want to discuss with your health care provider are:

  • Gestational diabetes
  • Neural tube defects (be sure to ask about taking additional folic acid prior to pregnancy)
  • Heart defects
  • Preeclampsia

Get a Strep Test

A recent study has shown that certain groups of women are at a higher risk of carrying Group B Strep (GBS), a microbe that lives in the birth canal and can be passed to the baby during birth. One of these groups is overweight women. The good news is there is a simple test to detect GBS – just a swab of the vagina done between the 35th and 37th week of pregnancy. If GBS is detected, treatment is a course of antibiotics. All women should be routinely tested for GBS, but based on the new study, it is particularly important that plus-size moms make sure they are tested.