New Study Suggests That Maternal Weight Is Linked to Maternal Hypertension

While the causes of preeclampsia, or maternal hypertension, are usually unknown, one recent study suggests that one cause can be linked to this condition: obesity.

weight-scale-1186279-m.jpgA study published by the University of Edinburgh in BJOG: An International Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology found that women with a higher BMI experience more complications and in-patient admissions than women with a BMI within the normal range.

Researchers analyzed National Health Service data on 128,280 births by over 100,000 Scottish women between the years 2003 and 2010. Each woman’s BMI was recorded before they had reached 16 weeks of pregnancy. Researchers found that women who were classified as overweight, obese, or extremely obese had a greater risk of hypertension before pregnancy and pregnancy-induced hypertension, as well as gestational diabetes. Women in these categories were also more likely to choose caesarians or require them in an emergency.

Underweight pregnant women also experienced more health issues than normal-weight women. Overall, women who were underweight, overweight, obese, or extremely obese were admitted to hospitals more often than normal-weight women by 8%, 16%, 45%, and 88% respectively. Women who ranged from overweight to extremely obese also remained in the hospital for longer periods of time — 4%, 9%, and 12% respectively.

While it is tempting to point fingers in this situation, and declare that maternal hypertension is self-inflicted, much about maternal hypertension remains a mystery. As noted in a previous post, one other potential cause of maternal hypertension is that the parents’ genes are too similar. That is a risk factor that transcends weight, race, or age.

Maternal hypertension remains a very serious problem that could potentially happen to any pregnant mother at any point in her pregnancy. A woman with hypertension may first experience headaches, shortness of breath, and vision changes, as well as sudden swelling in the hands and face. While a pregnant woman with this condition can still deliver a normal, healthy baby, it requires medical professionals to continuously monitor her blood pressure and protein levels in the urine. Medical professionals must also be ready to admit a woman to the hospital, and possibly induce early labor, if she develops maternal hypertension. Failure to act appropriately could result in death for the mother and/or child.

Those who have suffered an injury due to medical error have the option of filing a medical malpractice lawsuit. Under Maryland law, an adult filing on her own behalf has the option of filing either five years from the injury, or three years from discovering the injury, whichever is earlier. Any affected minor may have until the age of 21 to file a lawsuit. If you live in Maryland and suffered an injury due to preventable medical error, contact a Baltimore maternal hypertension attorney to discuss your options.

Wais, Vogelstein, Forman & Offutt has more than 100 years of collective experience dealing with medical malpractice and birth injury cases. Located in Baltimore, Maryland, the firm represents residents in Maryland and Washington, D.C. If you have a birth injury or other medical malpractice issue, contact us today for a free consultation.

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