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Member Research & Reports

Member Research & Reports

BU: Strong Link between Pre-Pregnancy Obesity and Infant Deaths

Pre-pregnancy obesity is strongly associated with infant mortality, and compliance with weight-gain guidelines during pregnancy has a limited impact on that mortality risk, a new study led by Boston University School of Public Health (BUSPH) researchers shows.

The study, published online in Obstetrics and Gynecology, is the largest study to date of the relationship between pre-pregnancy obesity, prenatal weight gain, and infant mortality. It used birth and death records of more than six million newborns in 38 states from 2012 to 2013, which included information on the mother’s height and pre-pregnancy weight, needed to compute BMI (body-mass index). The authors examined overall infant mortality in three major categories: infants who died from preterm-related causes, congenital anomalies, and sudden unexpected infant death.

Compared to babies born to women with normal pre-pregnancy weights, the risk of infant death was 32 percent higher for mothers in the obese I category and 73 percent higher for those in the obese III category, even after controlling for demographic and medical risk factors.

Lead author Dr. Eugene Declercq, professor of community health sciences at BUSPH, said the findings support the importance of clinicians and public health officials addressing the issue of obesity before pregnancy begins, and the need for more research into the underlying processes that might link pre-pregnancy obesity and poor infant outcomes.

To read more about the study, go to: