Study Links Mom's Obesity with Risk for Birth Defects

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CHICAGO (AP) - A study suggests women who are obese before pregnancy face a higher risk of having babies with birth defects than moms with a healthy weight.

The lead author, University of Texas researcher Kim Waller, says obese women shouldn't be overly alarmed by the findings.

Waller says their absolute risk of having a child with a birth defect is low, and the cause of the majority of birth defects is unknown.

The results involving nearly 15,000 women from eight states found abnormalities of the spine, heart, arms, legs and abdomen.

Waller says the findings suggest about four percent of women who are obese before pregnancy will have babies with major birth defects, versus three percent for healthy-weight women.

The study is in the August edition of Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine. It was funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.