What are the obesity problems in pregnancy

Obese and Pregnant: Risks for Mother and Child

The assumption that less weight gain in obese pregnant women would be beneficial in preventing gestational diabetes has not been confirmed. This has now been shown by a study by the Clinical Department for Endocrinology and Metabolism at the Vienna Medical University in the AKH. Even the opposite could be true.

It may therefore even be unfavorable for the mother and the unborn child to consume fewer carbohydrates during pregnancy. These data have now been published in the journal "Diabetes Care".

Risk of diabetes

Gestational diabetes is a form of diabetes that becomes visible during pregnancy and usually disappears again - at least temporarily - immediately after birth. In Austria, as in all of Europe, it is assumed that one in seven pregnant women is affected.

One of the main risk factors for these problems is the excess weight of the expectant mother. During pregnancy, the recommendation of no more than five to nine kilograms of weight gain applies to severely overweight people. In order to investigate possibilities and indicators for the avoidance of gestational diabetes in obese women, diet measures were evaluated in 436 women as part of the EU project DALI (Vitamin D And Lifestyle Intervention for Gestational Diabetes) - endocrinologist Alexandra-Kautzky-Willer von was involved in the study of the Clinical Department of Endocrinology and Metabolism.

Risk of losing weight

A group of pregnant, obese women was instructed in a coaching session to change their diet and to observe five measures: Reduction of soft drinks, reduction of quickly absorbable carbohydrates and fat and an increase in protein and fiber. The comparison group made no changes to their eating habits. A second group of women exercised regularly and received advice accordingly. The comparison group did not engage in any physical activity.

In fact, there was less weight gain in those women who followed the diet. However, higher blood sugar levels and increased amounts of substances in the blood that arise from increased fat breakdown, such as fatty acids or ketone bodies, were also detectable. This was also related to a reduced carbohydrate intake.

Free fatty acids

In addition, increased free fatty acids were found in the blood of the newborn children. No changes in these metabolic markers were noticeable in the comparison groups. However, according to the study, increased physical activity could just as little prevent gestational diabetes as the additional administration of vitamin D.

In any case, nutritional interventions have a significant impact on maternal and child metabolism. The advantage of a lower weight gain with carbohydrate restriction in obese pregnant women leads to increased fat breakdown and the associated release of free fatty acids in the blood of mother and child. The consequences of this are still unclear and are being researched further. (12.7.2019)