Weight-Loss Surgery Can Cause Pregnancy and Birth Complications

Women who have previously undergone weight-loss surgery are at a higher risk of developing pregnancy complications. Their babies are more likely to be prematurely born, have congenital anomalies, and get admitted to intensive care. This is according to a comprehensive assessment of how bariatric surgery affects pregnancy outcomes.

Case study

PregnancyThe systematic review and the meta-analysis compared more than 14,800 pregnancies in women who had undergone weight-loss surgery previously with about 4 million pregnancies in women who had not.

Authors said that pregnant women who had undergone weight-loss surgery at some point should be considered high risk. They should be provided with extra support throughout pregnancy and both the child and mother should be closely monitored.

Their findings indicated that women who had a history of bariatric surgery, particularly gastric bypass surgery, have a higher risk of several severe perinatal outcomes. This is according to Zainab Akhter, a Ph.D. student from the Newcastle University. She was the one who was in charge of the research. She said the women required specific pregnancy nutrition and preconception support. Dietary supplements are also important.

Pregnant women suffering from obesity are at greater risk of developing complications like hypertension and diabetes. Having weight-loss surgery prior to pregnancy improves the outcomes. However, some bariatric procedures like gastric bypass affect the absorption of micronutrients. They may also lead to impaired fetal development. In the United Kingdom, out of every four bariatric surgery patients, three are women, the majority of who are of childbearing age.

The researchers did a systematic review and a meta-analysis of observational studies. They compared undesirable perinatal outcomes after the surgery to those pregnancies with no prior weight-loss surgery. They analyzed data from 33 articles.


The results showed that babies who were born after weight-loss surgery had a 57% higher chance of being born prematurely, 29% higher chance of having congenital anomalies, and 41% higher chance of getting admitted to a neonatal intensive care unit. Additionally, babies born after the surgery had a 38% higher risk of perinatal death. This is a stillbirth or dying within 7 days after birth.

The children born after bariatric surgery were about 200g lighter than other babies.

A deeper analysis was showing that women with gastric bypass were around 2.7 times more likely to deliver babies that were small for the gestational age.


It is not quite clear how weight-loss surgery influences fetal development but it is clear that people who get bariatric surgery have higher chances of micronutrient deficiencies. This is according to Zainab who also proposes more to understand the causes of these deficiencies. This will lead to taking steps to support women achieve the best pregnancy outcomes for themselves and their kids.

We would appreciate it if you shared your thoughts on the discussion in the comment section below.


Preparing for and Managing a Pregnancy After Bariatric Surgery

Unforeseen Consequences: Bariatric Surgery Side Effects

Science Daily. (2019, 04 27). Retrieved 05 05, 2019, from www.sciencedaily.com: https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/04/190427201949.htm



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