Obesity and Pregnancy: Complications and Cost.
Galtier-Dereure F, Boegner C, Bringer J. Am J Clin Nutr. 2000 May;71(5 Suppl):1242S-8S.

The prevalence of obesity is currently rising in developed countries, making pregravid overweight one of the most common high-risk obstetric situations. Although the designs and populations of published studies vary widely, most authors agree that pregravid overweight increases maternal and fetal morbidity.

Even moderate overweight is a risk factor for gestational diabetes and hypertensive disorders of pregnancy, and the risk is higher in subjects with overt obesity. Compared with normal weight, maternal overweight is related to a higher risk of cesarean deliveries and a higher incidence of anesthetic and postoperative complications in these deliveries.

Low Apgar scores, macrosomia, and neural tube defects are more frequent in infants of obese mothers than in infants of normal-weight mothers. The regional distribution of fat modulates the effects of weight on carbohydrate tolerance, hemodynamic adaptation, and fetal size. Maternal obesity increases perinatal mortality.

Long-term complications include worsening of maternal obesity and development of obesity in the infant. The average cost of hospital prenatal and postnatal care is higher for overweight mothers than for normal-weight mothers, and infants of overweight mothers require admission to neonatal intensive care units more often than do infants of normal-weight mothers. Preconception counseling, careful prenatal management, tight monitoring of weight gain, and long-term follow-up could minimize the social and economic consequences of pregnancies in overweight women.