Obesity is the root cause of many diseases and it is the major health issue for public. It has been linked to several health problems such as cancer, heart diseases, hypertension etc. It also has an adverse effect during pregnancy as it can cause complications in pregnancy by increasing the mother’s risk of having gestational diabetes, preterm birth, preeclampsia or baby with birth defects. Maternal obesity is related to many severe outcomes for the infant, which can persist into adulthood such as heart disease, mortality and type-2 diabetes.
Maternal obesity also compromises immune system of the babies. Researches have proven that pre-pregnancy maternal weight plays a significant role on the neonate’s immune system. The immune system of the babies born to obese mothers gets comprised very early in baby’s life. The researchers analysed the umbilical cord blood sample of babies born to mothers who are lean, obese and overweight. It was found that pre-pregnancy maternal weight has a major impact on the immune system of neonate hence putting such babies at high risk for diseases such as asthma and heart diseases.
Several studies have linked maternal obesity (pregnancy starting with excess weight and gaining more weight during pregnancy) to a very high risk of asthma and cardiovascular diseases in children. These studies used established BMI (Body Mass Index) category for sorting mothers participating in the study. BMI 25 to 30 was considered as overweight and mother with 30 or higher BMI was considered as obese. Participating mothers were all non-smokers, had no diabetes and had uncomplicated gestation term.
The result of this study indicated that specific immune cells in circulation that is monocytes and dendritic cells, isolated from babies born to mother with higher BMI were unable to properly respond to bacterial antigens in comparison with babies born to lean mother. Babies born to mother with high BMI also showed reduction in CD4 T-cell. These two changes found in the results can compromise the responses to infection and vaccination.
Later it was also found that eosinophil; cells responsible for allergic response and asthma pathogenesis were also reduced significantly in the umbilical cord blood of the babies who are born to obese mom. The reason behind this observation is assumed to be that these cells have already been moved to lungs and hence may have increased the incidence of asthma which has been observed in children who are born to obese mother later in life.
These researches showed the link between maternal obesity during pregnancy and neonatal immune outcomes and how this can affect the immunity of child which can persist for lifetime.
So, overweight or obese woman before planning to become pregnant should talk to their ob-gyn about their weight management. As obesity associated with low fertility and success rate of pregnancy so it has serious repercussions for maternal health. Obesity and weight gain has a high risk of increasing preeclampsia, placental abruption, and gestational diabetes. So it is very important to talk about the ideal weight with doctor before entering into pregnancy.