Women can struggle with pregnancy and fertility for all types of reasons. They may have pre-existing conditions and disorders that prevent them from conceiving easily, or they may have issues with being able to carry a healthy baby. For some women, being able to conceive and carry a child can be influenced by manageable issues, like weight. Many studies have shown a correlation between pregnancy difficulty and being overweight, and it’s something that women should pay attention to carefully.

Being overweight and underweight can often lead to preterm birth, which can put your child at further risk throughout their infancy and the rest of their life. Obese women are two to three times more at risk of experiencing extremely preterm birth, which is usually at about 22 to 27 weeks of gestation. Sven Cnattingius of Karolinska Institute in Stockholm reported in the June 12 issue of JAMA that, “Excess weight increased the risk across the range of severities for prematurity but was most pronounced in association with extreme preterm delivery.”

It’s not just overweight women that are at risk of experiencing preterm delivery however, underweight women are also at risk.  The dangers of extreme preterm birth are lower, but the consequences of unhealthy weight are still very much present. The study conducted by Dr. Cnattingius and his team also reports that "high morbidity and mortality among extremely preterm infants, even small absolute differences in risks will have consequences for infant health and survival.”

Obese women are in danger of developing gestational diabetes, preeclampsia, and blood clots. All of these could have serious repercussions for your child on top of the risk of preterm birth. Underweight women are in danger of miscarriage, perinatal mortality, and having a child with a low birth weight as well as being at risk of preterm birth. As a mother, what can you do about this? Well, doctors generally recommend that before attempting to become pregnant you address any health concerns that can affect your child if you’re able to. For overweight and underweight women, a diet change could be necessary. With help from your doctor or a dietitian, set up a diet plan that works for you so that you can be as healthy as possible for your baby.

Source: Karolinska Institutet (2013, June 11). Obesity increases risk of preterm delivery. ScienceDaily.