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Pregnancy after bariatric surgery may have additional risks

Researchers have investigated the outcomes of pregnancy after bariatric surgery.

Obesity is a growing global health concern that affects about 650 million people worldwide. Bariatric surgery is a popular and effective treatment to promote weight loss and lower obesity-related complications. However, bariatric surgery can have its own complications – particularly important during pregnancy are concerns over nutrient deficiencies, which can affect fetal growth and development.

In a recent review study, the outcomes of pregnancy following bariatric surgery were investigated by systematically reviewing currently available data regarding pregnancy following bariatric surgery. No limits were placed on the type of bariatric surgery examined. The literature in which the results were drawn from were from several locations including Canada, Europe, the United States, Israel, Australia, and Brazil.

How does previous bariatric surgery affect pregnancy?

Perinatal mortality, stillbirth, neonatal intensive care unit admission, congenital anomalies, and preterm birth were more likely to occur when women had previous bariatric surgery, compared to women who did not. In contrast, there was a decrease in the odds of post-term birth in women with bariatric surgery, compared to women who did not have bariatric surgery. There was also a higher chance of the baby having a small size for their gestational age in women who had bariatric surgery, compared to women who did not have the surgery. The opposite could be said for babies large for their gestational age.

The authors noticed that there was a lot of heterogeneity in the literature they examined, which could affect the significance of some of their observations. In light of these results, the authors suggested that these adverse outcomes in the children may partially be due to nutritional deficiencies. Specifically, they believe that surgeries that affect how well food is digested (i.e., malabsorptive procedures) could also be a potential cause for nutritional deficiencies. The authors caution that though the quality of the literature examined was of reasonable quality, more studies with more subjects would be needed to confirm the findings. They also stated that there are other factors that could contribute to these outcomes.

Written by Olajumoke Marissa Ologundudu, B.Sc. (Hons)

Reference: Akhter et al. Pregnancy after bariatric surgery and adverse perinatal outcomes: A systematic review and meta-analysis. PLOS Medicine. 2019; 16(8): e1002866. doi:




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