Obesity plus pregnancy equals more health care needs

NEWS IN BRIEF — Posted April 21, 2008

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Obesity during pregnancy is associated with greater use of health care services and longer hospital stays, according to findings published April 3 in the New England Journal of Medicine. This study, conducted by researchers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Kaiser Permanente Northwest Center for Health Research, is the first to document the effect of obesity during pregnancy on use of health services.

Using data from 13,442 pregnancies resulting in live births or stillbirths between 2001 and 2004, the researchers found that, compared with pregnant women of normal weight, obese pregnant women had longer hospital stays and more obstetrical ultrasounds, used more outpatient medications and were more likely to be seen by a physician than a nurse midwife or nurse practitioner.

"The increased health care use by obese pregnant women will have substantial cost implications," explained Susan Chu, PhD, the study's lead scientist. "About one in five women who give birth in the United States is obese, which means that of the 4 million births each year, about 1 million are to obese women. Thus, even a small increase in utilization associated with obesity will have considerable economic impact."

Note: This item originally appeared at

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