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Fertility conference 2001 Monday, 2 July, 2001, 17:28 GMT 18:28 UK
Obesity raises IVF miscarriage risk
Scales
Obesity may reduce a woman's chance of giving birth
Obese women are far more likely to miscarry after IVF treatment - but losing even a few kilos could make a huge difference, say doctors.

They are urging that grossly overweight women be urged to change their diets, and take exercise, prior to embarking on fertility treatments.

Obese women have long been known to have problems conceiving naturally, and studies have shown that their overall success rates for IVF do not match those of those with a normal body mass.

The latest research, from Professor Robert Norman's team at the Reproductive Medicine Unit at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Adelaide, analysed more closely the way obesity affected the pregnancies of those patients who had managed to conceive with IVF.

The study looked at the progress of a variety of women and compared this with their body mass index (BMI) - their weight in kilos divided height in metres squared.

Women with a BMI of between 30 and 35 - obese, but not grossly obese - had a miscarriage rate after fertility treatment of 27%. Those with a BMI of over 35 miscarried in 34% of cases.

Doubled risk

This equates approximately to a 50% increased risk among the lower weight group, and a doubled risk among the most obese patients.

Professor Norman said: "In fact, being overweight is such an important factor that a woman less than 30 years old with a BMI of over 35 undergoing fertility treatment has about the same risk of miscarriage as a woman of normal weight who is over 40 years old."

However, he added: "One does not have to lose a lot of weight to get good outcomes."

More of a mystery, however, is the reason why high BMI might be impacting on fertility, or more particularly, miscarriage.

Professor Norman speculated that as the body┐s ability to deal with insulin properly could be affected by carrying excess weight, this could impact on the supply of blood to the developing placenta.

See also:

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