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These lifestyle changes may help obese pregnant women reduce health risks for their baby; study

Obese pregnant women can limit weight gain and alleviate health risks for their baby by making simple lifestyle changes.

Study: Obese pregnant women can limit weight gain and alleviate health risks for their baby by making simple lifestyle changes.

Written by Arushi Bidhuri |Updated : November 10, 2020 9:29 AM IST

Obese pregnant women may be at a higher risk of developing health problems. It increases the risk of almost all pregnancy complications, including gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM), gestational hypertension, and infertility. Their babies also have a higher risk of premature birth and some birth defects. Doctors didn't promote weight loss for pregnant women in the past. But new research suggests that improved diet and more physical activity may help reduce the health risks for them and their infants.

The researchers examined the impact of high glucose on mothers with GDM and changes to infants DNA. According to the study published in the journal PLOS Medicine, high levels of glucose in mothers with GDM may trigger epigenetic changes in the developing fetus. Epigenetic changes refer to modifications that may change the physical structure of the DNA. Chemical changes to the genetic blueprint of the fetus can adversely affect your child and lead to health complications.

Karen Lillycrop along with researchers from the University of Southampton, UK, found that significant improvements in the diet and physical activity can have a positive impact on the development of the baby. The study analyzed data from 550 pregnant women with obesity and their children.

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Pregnant women who changed their diet to lower glycemic index foods that are broken down less quickly in the body, a reduced-fat intake and increasing physical activity were metabolically healthier than women who made no changes in their lifestyle during pregnancy.

Risks If You're Pregnant And Obese

As already discussed, a pregnant woman who is obese is at a greater risk of many health problems, including:

  • miscarriage
  • blood clots
  • gestational diabetes
  • high blood pressure
  • heavy bleeding

While these problems can affect a pregnant woman, whether obese or not, it can increase the risk of developing these problem increases. Being obese may elevate the risk of the following health problems for the baby:

  • preterm birth
  • stillbirth
  • birth defects
  • chronic conditions like heart diseases and diabetes
  • higher birth weight

Tips To Manage Your Weight During Pregnancy

  1. Get early and prenatal tests to check for any problems.
  2. Indulge in a supervised exercise program to maintain fitness, limit weight gain and decrease the risk of complications. Remember, not to do strenuous exercise as it may harm you and the baby.
  3. Avoid foods like fast food, fried food, soda, pastries and sweets that contain empty calories. When you're pregnant, what you eat and drink is the main source of nourishment for your baby.
  4. Eat a diet rich in essential nutrients like calcium, healthy fats, carbohydrates and protein for the proper development of your baby. Avoid following fad diets as it can be extremely dangerous to the baby.
  5. Start incorporating these changes slowly. The ultimate goal is to stay active and eat a balanced diet. Whatever you do, you have do it in moderation.
  6. Talk to your doctor about how you can monitor your weight during pregnancy. They will recommend a proper diet and give you prenatal vitamins.

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