Obesity makes labor tougher on women, new research finds

ST. LOUIS -- Looking for yet another reason to stay svelte? Labor can be longer for obese pregnant women, a new Saint Louis University study finds.

The research, presented at the annual meeting of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists in May, finds that it takes obese pregnant women who are given medication to induce labor longer to deliver their babies than women of normal body weight.

The obese women also needed more medication – a dinoprostone vaginal insert – to activate labor, and it took longer for the medicine to start working. The obese women also are more likely to have a cesarean deliver than a vaginal delivery.

The study included 195 patients, and was conducted by Erin Brousseau, M.D., an obstetrics, gynecology and women's health resident at Saint Louis University, who presented the research.

She says the take home message is that doctors need to tell obese women that electing to have labor induced can place them at higher risk of longer labor and could increase the possibility that they will need a cesarean section. In addition, doctors may want to wait for labor to begin spontaneously rather than choosing to induce labor early in obese women, given these risks.

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Established in 1836, Saint Louis University School of Medicine has the distinction of awarding the first M.D. degree west of the Mississippi River. Saint Louis University School of Medicine is a pioneer in geriatric medicine, organ transplantation, chronic disease prevention, cardiovascular disease, neurosciences and vaccine research, among others. The School of Medicine trains physicians and biomedical scientists, conducts medical research, and provides health services on a local, national and international level.


Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 21 Feb 2009
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