Boots WebMD Partners in Health
Return To Boots

Pregnancy health centre

This article is from the WebMD News Archive

Women advised to delay pregnancy after obesity surgery

Experts say pregnancy after bariatric surgery is best left until at least 12 months after the operation
WebMD UK Health News
Medically Reviewed by Dr Sheena Meredith
female doctor consulting female pregnant patient

11th January 2013 - With obesity among women of reproductive age expected to rise, from 24.2% in 2005 to 28.3% in 2015, so too is the number of women undergoing weight loss (bariatric) surgery.

However, a new evidence-based literature review published in The Obstetrician & Gynaecologist (TOG) advises women to wait at least 12 months before trying for a baby following a weight loss operation.

Review findings

The review states that pregnancy after bariatric surgery is safer than pregnancy in morbidly obese women. A previous study following pregnancies after weight loss surgery found 79.2% of participants had no complications during their pregnancy.

However, there can be problems. Another study found that gastric band slippage and migration can occur, resulting in severe vomiting, and band leakage was reported in 24% of pregnancies.

Based on the current evidence available, the authors of the review recommend that patients should not get pregnant for at least 12 months following bariatric surgery, which is when rapid weight loss occurs. Also, it's during the first year after surgery that nutritional deficiencies or electrolyte imbalance can arise.

Although the experts are saying women should wait at least 12 months before trying for a baby one study found a higher spontaneous miscarriage rate among pregnancies occurring within 18 months of having weight loss surgery compared with those pregnancies occurring more than 18 months after surgery (31% versus 18%).

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

The review concludes that a successful pregnancy following weight loss surgery requires a multidisciplinary team including obstetricians, surgeons, primary care clinicians, anaesthetists, fertility specialists, nutritionists, psychologists and plastic surgeons.

Decreased weight - increased questions

The review says that increasingly obstetricians, surgeons and primary care clinicians will be required to address questions about the safety of pregnancy after weight loss surgery.

Rahat Khan, co- author of the review and Consultant Obstetrician and Gynaecologist, Princess Alexandra Hospital NHS Trust, Harlow, Essex, says in a press release:"An increasing number of women of child-bearing age are undergoing bariatric surgery procedures and need information and guidance regarding reproductive issues. 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."

The Obstetrician & Gynaecologist Editor-in-Chief, Jason Waugh says in a media statement:"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."

Reviewed on January 11, 2013

Parenting newsletter

Tips to inspire healthy habits.
Sign Up Now!

Popular slideshows & tools on BootsWebMD

How to help headache pain
man in mirror
How smoking affects your looks & life
man holding sore neck
16 tips when you have a lot of weight to lose
man holding sore neck
Could you have a hormone imbalance?
woman looking at pregnancy test
Is your body ready for pregnancy?
man holding sore neck
8 signs you're headed for menopause
couple makigh salad
Nutrition for over 50s
bain illustration
Best foods for your brain
adult man contemplating
When illness makes it hard to eat
Allergy myths and facts
egg in cup
Surprising things that can harm your liver