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Overweight pregnant women at higher risk for health problems

A new study shows obese women aren’t the only ones that face health risks during pregnancy, women who are just above average weight and blood sugar are also at high risk.

The concerns

“These are women who have not been on our radar because they don’t have gestational diabetes and aren’t obese, but our study shows if you are one step away from each of those, you carry some significant risks,” said principle investigator Boyd Metzger, M.D., a professor of medicine-endocrinology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine and a physician at Northwestern Memorial Hospital.

“We need to address the combination of overweight and blood sugar of these women as urgently as we do for women who are obese or have gestational diabetes.”

The health concerns for women and babies

One of the adverse outcomes for these mothers is having large babies. A pregnant woman’s higher blood sugar level and weight also can lead to higher insulin and lower blood sugar levels in a newborn. In turn, these effects may eventually trigger obesity and diabetes, perhaps as early as childhood.

“The big message from this is when you look at the impact of nutrition, metabolism and weight on pregnancy outcomes, every woman – on her first prenatal visit — should get a prescription for a session with a dietician and an appropriate healthy eating plan for her pregnancy,” said Metzger, also the Tom D. Spies Professor of Metabolism and Nutrition at Northwestern’s Feinberg School.

“This doesn’t happen, but it should, and insurance companies should reimburse it.

Controlling weight

Doctors suggest a healthy lifestyle with a balanced diet and exercise. Start the day off with a healthy breakfast and plan exercise into your routine. Balance your food choices and watch portion sizes. Eating more fruits, grains and vegetables will also help you lose weight.

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