Obesity, as defined by body mass index (BMI) is one of the biggest challenges facing
health care system including maternity services today, particularly in the industrialized nations.
Maternal obesity is linked with a number of pregnancy complications including gestational diabetes,
preeclampsia, venous thromboembolism, caesarean delivery, postpartum haemorrhage, macrosomia,
shoulder dystocia and poor perinatal outcomes. Obesity has also been shown to be independently
associated with higher odds of dying from specific pregnancy complications. These risks increases with
increasing BMI and are highest in women with BMI ≥ 50. The mechanisms underlying these
pathologies remain unclear. All obese women in reproductive age group should be counselled about
weight gain, exercise programmes, nutrition and food choices, longer term health risks and increased
risk of maternal and fetal complications, ideally before contemplating pregnancy. They should also
be supported to lose weight and optimise their health before conception. Obese pregnant women
should receive routine care supplemented by specialist services and facilities that are specific to their
needs, to improve maternal and perinatal outcomes.
Keywords: Body mass index (BMI), fetal, maternal, obesity, pregnancy, weight, health care system, pregnancy complications.
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