Pathophysiological and Perioperative Features of Morbidly Obese Parturients

Yigal Leykin; Tommaso Pellis


Expert Rev of Obstet Gynecol. 2009;4(3):313-319. 

In This Article


The prevalence of obesity is increasing among women in the USA. According to data collected for the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, obesity among women 20-39 years of age increased from 26 to 28% between 1999 and 2004.[15] In England (UK), the percentage of women of reproductive age with a BMI greater than 30 increased from 12% in 1993 to 18% in 2002.[16] In Brazil, the prevalence was less; approximately 5.5% of parturients are obese.[17] In nine US states, the prevalence of prepregnancy obesity among women who delivered live infants was 13% in 1993-1994 and 22% in 2002-2003, with a mean increase of 69%, ranging from 45 to 105% according to the individual state.[18] In a study of 14,230 Australian pregnant women, 34% were overweight, obese or morbidly obese.[19,20] Although examining different BMIs, thereby hindering direct comparisons among studies, all epidemiological reports demonstrate a dramatic increase in the prevalence of obesity.

The 2007 Confidential Enquiry into Maternal and Child Health in the UK concluded that 27% of maternal deaths during 2003-2005 were among obese women (BMI > 30), whereas 24% occurred among overweight women (BMI > 25).[21]

Adolescent pregnancy is of significant public-health focus. Overweight adolescent women are at increased risk for adverse neonatal and perinatal outcomes. The WHO reports that approximately 17 million adolescent girls (60 births/1000 girls) give birth each year. In the 1960s and 1970s, the prevalence of overweight girls (12-19 years of age) was 4.7%; this figure increased to 15% according to a survey between 1999 and 2002.[22] These figures set the premises for a further increase in the number of obese parturients in the coming years.


Comments on Medscape are moderated and should be professional in tone and on topic. You must declare any conflicts of interest related to your comments and responses. Please see our Commenting Guide for further information. We reserve the right to remove posts at our sole discretion.