Women Struggling With Obesity Affecting Fertility And Pregnancy

by Heather May | The Salt Lake Tribune ,  Sltrib.com | 2012-08-24

Obesity brings higher risk of diabetes, C-section, difficult labor, depression, birth defects.

Lisa Anderson started putting on weight in high school. She would lose a little with diet and drugs but gain it right back. She eventually decided she didn’t care and stopped worrying about her weight.But then she wanted to get pregnant.

Her extra weight meant she didn’t ovulate anymore. Her doctor told her she needed to lose 100 pounds not only to to become pregnant naturally but also to make it a healthy nine months pregnancy.

"I was so devastated," the 33-year-old said recently. "The way my husband looked at it, that would be his legacy. For me, I always wanted the 2 ½ kids, the picket fence. All of it."

Many women are preoccupied with their weight during pregnancy — watching it steadily climb for nine months. But it’s the weight gain before pregnancy they should worry about.

About 17 percent of new Utah mothers in 2010 were obese before they gave birth — a 70 percent hike since 1993. Obesity is defined as having a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or above, or a 5-foot-6 woman weighing 186 pounds.

State public health officials have recently tracked an even sharper increase in the number of morbidly obese pregnant women, or a BMI of 40-plus — or 245 pounds on a 5-foot-6 woman. In 2010, 2.8 percent of Utah women who gave birth were morbidly obese, a 55 percent leap since 2003, compared to an 18 percent jump in all obese mothers.

Because obesity can lower fertility, Utah doctors report seeing more obese women seeking help to lose weight in order to get pregnant, including through bariatric surgery, the option Anderson chose.


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