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Prevalence and outcomes of overweight and obesity among pregnant women in rural Queensland

Cochrane, Lynsey, Brumpton, Kay, Winter, Sacha, Bell, Katrina, Burnham, Harriet, Wadwell, Kristen, Kitchener, Scott
TheAustralian journal of rural health 2019 v.27 no.2 pp. 164-169
birth weight, body mass index, cesarean section, gestational diabetes, hospitals, mothers, obesity, pregnancy, pregnant women, rural communities, rural health, rural hospitals, smoke, smoking (habit), Queensland
OBJECTIVE: To assess the prevalence of overweight and obese women in the antenatal and perinatal periods, in rural hospitals; and to evaluate neonatal and maternal outcomes, including transfer to larger birthing centres. DESIGN: A retrospective clinical chart audit. SETTING: Rural maternity services in five Queensland rural hospitals. PARTICIPANTS: Data were collected from 250 women presenting to participating rural hospitals, with an estimated due date in 2016. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Obstetric and neonatal data, whether transfer occurred, mode of delivery and any complications, and neonatal outcomes including birth weight and complications were collected. Demographic information collected included maternal age, gravidity and parity, race, smoking status and pre‐pregnancy body mass index. The main outcome measures of interest were birth weight, Caesarean rate, transfer rate and diagnosis of gestational diabetes in relation to the body mass index. RESULTS: Over 50% of women were overweight or obese while entering pregnancy, with 5.2% of mothers in the morbidly obese category. There was an increase in the birth weight of mothers with a body mass index of more than 25. The increasing body mass index was associated with an increased likelihood of transfer, diagnosis of gestational diabetes, elective and, especially, emergency Caesareans performed at the hospital. Twenty‐four percent of women continued to smoke throughout pregnancy. CONCLUSION: A high prevalence of obesity was found in the rural obstetric population. As the body mass index increases, so too does birth weight, gestational diabetes, transfer rate and Caesarean section rate. The rates of smoking throughout pregnancy were higher than the average metropolitan rates. These findings have implications not just for rural hospital operation and resources, but also for preventive health activities in rural communities.