A new study published in the British Medical Journal found that women who have weight loss surgery are more likely to have babies prematurely and with a low birth weight.* The study looked at 15,000 births in Sweden from 1992 to 2009. 2,500 of the women studied had bariatric surgery. The standard delivery occurred about five years following their procedure. The other 12,500 babies were born to mothers who never had bariatric surgery.
The most common risks of premature birth or low birth babies have to deal with age, smoking and weight. All of these factors were controlled during this study to attempt to show a division between surgery and non-surgery patients.
About the Study
The study found that 10% of children born to those who had weight loss surgery were born prematurely compared to 6% in the non-surgery group. Regarding low birth weight, 5% of babies born to surgery patients were small for their gestational while 3% were for the non-surgery women. The one advantage that the women who had bariatric surgery had over the other group is that they rarely gave birth to excessively large babies. Most of the time, a large baby is linked to high blood sugar, insulin resistance or obesity, all things that are treated with weight loss surgery.
Study researchers believe these statistics may have to deal with the risk of vitamin or mineral deficiencies after weight loss surgery. These things can affect both the placenta and fetal growth during pregnancy. The study also found that mothers with the same BMI gave birth to babies with different weights if they had surgery or not, so the researchers believe there is an association there that needs to be explored further.
There is another study, while of a smaller magnitude by the Journal of American Medical Association that showed a lower risk of premature babies with bariatric surgery patients. The study only used 77 patients; however it is encouraging for researchers who spend their time looking for connections between fertility and reproductive health and women who undergo bariatric surgery.
Ultimately, whether a woman has bariatric surgery or not, shouldn’t affect the risks associated with her pregnancy. The study’s researchers believe that the woman’s pre-surgery weight and health are the best indicators of a healthy pregnancy.
In fact, the study showed that women who got pregnancy within 18 months of weight loss surgery had a 31% chance of miscarriage. Doctors recommend waiting at least 18 months, if not two full years, before trying to conceive after weight loss surgery.