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Maternal Obesity: Improving Pregnancy Outcomes

Nodine, Priscilla M. PhD, CNM; Hastings-Tolsma, Marie PhD, CNM, FACNM

MCN: The American Journal of Maternal/Child Nursing: March/April 2012 - Volume 37 - Issue 2 - p 110–115
doi: 10.1097/NMC.0b013e3182430296

Approximately 30% of pregnant women are obese (body mass index [BMI] ≥ 30) and are at risk for adverse pregnancy outcomes. In this article, we review the literature on select obstetrical risks associated with maternal obesity and assess the recommended prevention and management strategies. The selected risks include infertility, fetal anomalies, gestational hypertensive diseases, gestational diabetes, intrauterine fetal death, cesarean birth, macrosomia, and long-term risks of adult disease for the fetus. The causes of these adverse outcomes include maternal body habitus, the proinflammatory state of obesity, and metabolic dysfunction. We also discuss how nurses, nurse practitioners, and nurse–midwives can make a difference in the prenatal care and immediate pregnancy outcomes of pregnant women with obesity and influence future health for these women and their children.

Maternal obesity rates are increasing, and these women are at high risk for adverse birth outcomes.

Priscilla M. Nodine is an Assistant Professor at School of Medicine, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, University of Colorado, Denver, Aurora, CO. She can be reached via e-mail at

Marie Hastings-Tolsma is an Associate Professor in the Division of Women, Children, and Family Nursing, College of Nursing, University of Colorado, Denver, Aurora, CO.

This article was funded by American College of Nurse-Midwives (ACNM), Chapter V-03, Research Grant; March of Dimes Graduate Nursing Scholarship.

The authors have disclosed that there are no financial relationships related to this article.

© 2012 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.