According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, obesity is now a common condition that affects up to one in four pregnant women. Research has shown that obesity during pregnancy is associated with a significantly increased risk of maternal and fetal complications, resulting in a greater use of inpatient and outpatient health care services, increased length of hospital stays for delivery, greater use of physician services, and decreased use of services by nurse practitioners and physician assistants during prenatal visits.
Women & Infants Hospital of Rhode Island now offers an Obesity in Pregnancy Clinic as part of the hospital’s Integrated Program for High-Risk Pregnancy. A collaboration between the divisions of Maternal-Fetal Medicine and Obstetric and Consultative Medicine, the multidisciplinary team also includes an exercise physiologist and a nutritionist who will be present at all clinic sessions. A behavioral psychologist, bariatric surgeon and anesthesiologist will also be joining this clinical service over the next year.
“Obesity during pregnancy can lead to multiple complications for the mom, including hemorrhage, thromboembolism, infection, type 2 diabetes, pregnancy-induced hypertension or preeclampsia, and need for emergent cesarean delivery,” said Katharine D. Wenstrom, co-director of the Obesity in Pregnancy Clinic and director of the Division of Maternal-Fetal Medicine.“The fetuses of obese mothers are at increased risk of intrauterine fetal demise (IUFD), stillbirth, or early neonatal death; fetal anomalies; fetal intolerance of labor; preterm birth; macrosomia and shoulder dystocia; and meconium aspiration syndrome.”
Kenneth K. Chen, MD, co-director of the Obesity in Pregnancy Clinic and director of the Division of Obstetric and Consultative Medicine, explained, “It’s vital that these women and their babies receive the proper care to ensure a safe outcome for all. Through our clinic, we will provide pre-conception counseling and active intervention for obese women who wish to lose weight before they conceive. For women who are already pregnant, we will work with their own obstetric provider for either a one-time consultation or co-management of the patient throughout her pregnancy, or, if specifically requested by the provider, transition of the patient’s care to the Integrated Program for High-Risk Pregnancy.”
The Clinic will offer appointments at Women & Infants’ Center for Women’s Medicine, 100 Dudley Street, 3rd Floor, Providence. Referrals and appointments may be made by calling (401) 453-7545 or (401) 453-7950.
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