ART, or assisted reproductive technology, is commonly used by women who have trouble conceiving. According to a new study presented at the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology, overweight women who use ART to conceive are two times more likely to suffer a miscarriage than women of normal body weight.

Dr. Vivian Rittenberg works with the Assisted Conception Unit at the Guy’s and Thomas’ Hospital NHS Foundation. As part of the research team, Rittenberg studied four years of reproductive medical files gathered at the clinic. More than 300 women between January 2006 and December 2008 sought received ART services. Women were split into two groups - normal weight and overweight. Of the more than 300 women, 26% miscarried within the first 20 weeks of conception. When numbers were analyzed based on body weight, normal weight women miscarried 22% of pregnancies while overweight and obese women miscarried 33% of pregnancies.

Researchers noted that being overweight or obese when conceiving naturally also carries higher risk of miscarriage. Weight loss is the ultimate solution for overweight and obese women trying to conceive whether naturally or with ART. Women who are overweight and pregnant tend to also have a higher risk of high blood pressure, pre-eclampsia, diabetes, post-partum bleeding and delivery by cesarean section. Experts suggest women reduce weight by at least 10% before attempting to become pregnant while overweight or obese. Every pound lost reduces the risk of miscarriage and other pregnancy related health risks.

Source: European Society of Human Reproduction. 2 July 2010