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Weight loss surgery women should wait a year before trying for a baby

11 January 2013
Weight loss surgery women should wait a year before trying for a baby
Weight loss surgery women should wait a year before trying for a baby

Women who have had weight loss surgery should wait at least a year before trying for a baby, say experts.

Having a baby after bariatric surgery is safer than pregnancy in morbidly obese women, according to a review in The Obstetrician & Gynaecologist journal, but complications following this type of surgery can occur during pregnancy.

Obesity rates among women of childbearing age expected to reach 28 per cent by 2015, and increasing numbers of women are having bariatric surgery as a result.

Previous research found that 79 per cent of women had a complication free pregnancy following weight loss surgery, but another study which looked at women who had a gastric band fitted, reported band leakage in 24 per cent of pregnancies. Band slippage and movement, leading to severe vomiting was also reported.

The risk of having a spontaneous miscarriage may also be higher in women who have had weight loss surgery. One study found that 31 per cent of pregnancies occurring within 18 months of having weight loss surgery ended in miscarriage compared with 18 per cent of pregnancies more than 18 after the operation.

Based on the evidence currently available, the review authors recommended that women should not get pregnant for at least 12 months following bariatric surgery.

They also recommend that women should receive advice and information pre-conception on topics such as contraception, nutrition and weight gain and vitamin supplementation.

Rahat Khan, consultant obstetrician and gynaecologist, Princess Alexandra Hospital NHS Trust in Harlow, Essex and co-author of the review said: "In light of current evidence available, pregnancy after bariatric surgery is safer, with fewer complications, than pregnancy in morbidly obese women.

"Multidisciplinary input care is the key to a healthy pregnancy for women who have undergone bariatric surgery.

"However, this group of women should still be considered high risk by both obstetricians and surgeons.

"Increasingly, obstetricians, surgeons and primary care clinicians will be required to address questions posed by their patients regarding the safety of pregnancy after weight loss surgery.”

Jason Waugh, TOG’s editor-in-chief, said: "Pregnancy after bariatric surgery is safer than pregnancy in morbidly obese women. Women who have had bariatric surgery generally tolerate pregnancy well.

"However, there are risks involved and patients must be well informed.

"Optimal education should be encouraged in these individuals so that they can make well informed decisions about planning pregnancy after their surgery."

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