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TLC’s Dr. Hux on Having a Healthy Pregnancy

The Doctor’s In-Over 70% of Pregnancy Complications Are Related to Obesity and Diabetes, Says TLC’s Dr. Charles Hux. Read about new guidelines from the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and two important precautions every pregnant black woman should consider

Having a Healthy Pregnancy: Two Pregnancy Precautions Every Black Woman Should Know About
How the Fastest Growing Pregnancy Complications Are Closely Related

By Charles Hux, MD

It should come as no surprise that the obesity and diabetes epidemic in this country is having a significant effect on the population of pregnant women. Nearly 70% of all pregnancy complications can be traced to both morbid obesity and diabetes.
That’s sobering news for Black women who have the highest obesity rates compared to any other group in the U.S. According to the Office of Minority Health, about four out of five African American women are overweight or obese.In 2007, African Americans were 1.4 times as likely to be obese as Non- Hispanic Whites. And from 2003-2006, African American women were 70% more likely to be obese than Non-Hispanic White women.
The percentage of young women becoming diabetic at a younger age is rising yearly. This is in great part due to poor eating habits and lack of exercise. According to the American Diabetes Association, 3.7 million or 14.7% of all African Americans aged 20 years or older have diabetes, and we are 1.6 times more likely to have diabetes than non-Hispanic whites.

Morbid obesity carries a much higher incidence of complications for both mother and baby. This includes a 2–3 times greater risk of miscarriage as well as a 2–4 times greater risk for hypertension, preeclampsia, birth defects,  preterm birth, stillbirth, and the need for a cesarean section. In addition, women who are pregnant, over 35, and significantly overweight have a 30 times greater risk of having a heart attack during the pregnancy or during the first six months after delivery.

Black women should seriously consider these two precautions: The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists has changed how much weight a pregnant women needs to gain if she is obese. A woman who is obese only needs to gain about 10–15 lbs during pregnancy. In fact a women who is obese does not need to gain any weight and can actually lose a few pounds without any harm to the baby. Unfortunately, many pregnant women who are obese do not believe this fact and continue to eat in the same manner they did before.
Because of the rise of adult onset Type II diabetes in the younger population, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists as well as the American Diabetic Association are recommending a hemoglobin A1C blood test at a woman’s first prenatal visit. This will determine if a woman has had high blood sugars prior to becoming pregnant and already has Type II diabetes, which can then be treated throughout the pregnancy by diabetic standards. However, until this type of testing becomes standard practice, any women who is diagnosed with gestational diabetes needs to be tested 3–6 months following delivery to make sure blood sugar levels have returned to normal to make sure she does not have undiagnosed adult onset Type II diabetes.

While gestational diabetes usually does not pose a problem to a pregnancy, it can when the baby is very large (macrosomic). A large baby can have shoulder dystocia especially during a vaginal delivery and may need to be admitted to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). Type II diabetes can cause both large and small babies and a host of other complications to both the mother and the baby. Risks to the baby include a 2–3 times increase of birth defects such as heart defects and neurological abnormalities, preterm birth and stillbirth. The mother is at an increased risk of developing hypertension, preeclampsia, and vascular disease.

The most important thing any women can do who is overweight and thinking about becoming pregnant is to get a thorough physical exam and be counseled about the importance of eating a healthy diet for both the health of the woman and her future children. Recent studies on animals and humans have shown that what a pregnant woman eats directly affects the future dietary habits of her children. If the mother eats foods high in sugar and fat, her children are likely to do the same resulting in obesity and diabetes at a young age.

The future health of our children really does begin with having a healthy mother. A mother who begins her pregnancy at a healthy weight and eats a healthy diet during her pregnancy is less likely to experience pregnancy complications. In addition, a mother who cares about the food she eats herself is more likely to feed her children a healthy diet as well. This will result in healthier children and healthier adults. It is our role as parents to give our children the best possible start in life. Our children also deserve to have parents that are going to be around a long time. It is a win-win proposition.

Dr. Charles Hux attended Case Western Reserve School of Medicine and completed his residency in obstetrics and gynecology and a fellowship in maternal-fetal medicine at Thomas Jefferson University. He received a master’s degree in genetics from Rutgers University. He maintains a private practice in Sea Girt, NJ and is primarily affiliated with Monmouth Medical Center in Long Branch, NJ. His articles have appeared in American Journal of Obstetrics/Gynecology, Prenatal Diagnosis, New England Journal of Medicine and Genetics.

A well-known media resource, Dr. Hux has been interviewed on national and regional television, quoted in various newspapers and has talked on topics of pregnancy at over 300 conferences to both physicians and the general public. He is for the last eight years, the current resident “multiples doctor” on The Learning Channel’s A Baby Story.

Website: http://huxmd.yourmd.com

Nine Healthy Months is available from bookstores nationwide.

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