Scientists, bless their pocket-protected hearts,
are giving us women yet another reason to watch our cheeseburger and
Buffalo wing intake: Swedish researchers just released a study saying that if
you’re overweight or obese during pregnancy, you’re more likely to give birth
to a preemie.
Dr. Sven Cnattingius from Stockholm’s Karolinska Institute headed up a team that analyzed records of
1.6 million women and the babies they had between 1992 and 2010. Five percent
of these children were born early. Only 0.17 percent of women whose weight was
normal had a baby who was extremely premature, but as a woman’s body mass index
(a measure of weight in relation to height) increased, so did her baby’s risks.
Women who were overweight had a 0.21 percent chance of an extreme preemie; for
women who were severely obese, the odds rose to an eyebrow-arching 0.52 percent.
“For the actual woman, her individual risk increase
is not very big,” Cnattingius told Reuters Health. But he added that across an
entire population—especially one like ours in the U.S., which already
struggles with high rates of obesity—the dangers can add up quickly.
The study said the link was strongest for the most
fragile babies of them all: those born between 22 and 27 weeks of gestation.