Health care professionals often encourage women with obesity to lose weight prior to trying to conceive or start infertility treatments. But a new nationwide study led by Penn State College of Medicine found that women with obesity and unexplained infertility who lost weight prior to starting infertility treatments did not have a greater chance of having a healthy baby than those who did not lose weight prior to starting therapy.
Forty percent of U.S. women between the ages of 20 and 40 are estimated to have obesity, which has been associated with trouble getting pregnant, pregnancy complications and loss. As a result, it is common for those women to receive guidance to lose weight prior to conception to increase their chances of having a healthy baby.
Dr. Richard Legro, professor and chair of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center, led a multi-center National Institutes of Health-sponsored study of more than 300 women with obesity and unexplained infertility to evaluate whether targeted weight loss prior to fertility treatments could increase their likelihood of delivering a healthy baby.
At the end of the study period, the researchers noticed no significant differences in the amount of pregnancies and healthy births between those who lost weight and those who didn’t. The results were published in PLOS Medicine.
While it may not increase a woman with obesity’s chances of delivering a healthy baby, the researchers noted there may be other health benefits for these women if they lose weight. Some of the women in the weight loss group had decreased blood pressure and a reduction in waist circumference.