Many obese men and women are turning to surgery to help them lose the extra weight. But for women who are planning a pregnancy, is it a good idea?
A new study suggests that for obese women who choose weight-loss surgery to bring their weight under control, having the procedure may also benefit their future children.
A Canadian study found that children born after their mother had lost considerable weight from gastric bypass surgery were slimmer than their pre-surgery siblings and had fewer risk factors for diabetes or heart disease later in life.
The findings showed that numerous genes linked to obesity-related health problems worked differently in the younger siblings than in their older brothers and sisters.
The researchers looked at the genes of 50 children who were born to 20 mothers before or after they had gastric bypass surgery. The children were on average about 15 years old.
The moms were between the ages of 35 to 51 and were all classified as obese before they had the procedures. They all lost almost 100 pounds after the surgery.
The type of gastric bypass surgery performed on the mothers who participated in the study is called a biliopancreatic diversion with duodenal switch procedure. It is not used as often as the more common Roux-en-Y gastric bypass procedure. In the biliopancreatic diversion with duodenal switch procedure, a larger part of the stomach is left intact while bypassing most of the intestine.
In the children born after their mother’s surgery and weight loss, researchers found 5,698 genes were expressed differently than their older siblings. What that means is that the mothers didn’t pass on different genes to their children, but how those genes operated in the children’s bodies were different in the pre and post surgery children. The reason may be that factors inside the womb seem to affect the dimmer switches that develop on a fetus' genes — chemical changes that make genes speed up or slow down or switch on and off. That in turn can greatly influence health.
The Canadian study’s findings may offer new information on how a mother’s weight and health impacts her fetus. Overweight mothers have higher levels of sugar and fat in the bloodstream, which in turn makes it to the womb. That combination may do more than just produce a large baby: it may also affect certain genes clustered in pathways known to affect blood sugar metabolism and heart disease risk.
The mother’s weight loss surgery may not be the only important factor in her child’s health. Diet and exercise plays an important role in how fit children are and will continue to be. Mothers who are making an effort to keep their weight under control typically prepare or offer their kids healthier meals and participate in more family exercise.
Whether having gastric bypass surgery by overweight mothers-to-be will have a life-long impact on their child’s health is still unknown. What is known is that experts agree that women who are planning a pregnancy should talk with their doctor about their weight before they conceive. Carrying too many extra pounds during pregnancy can produce its own set of complications such as premature delivery, birth defects, hypertension, gestational diabetes and blood clots. Women who are obese while carrying are more likely to require a cesarean section.
The takeaway from this study is that if you are obese - can’t lose the weight you need to by more traditional methods -and want to become pregnant, perhaps gastric bypass surgery will not only help you shed the extra pounds but may also pass along added benefits to your future child.
Talk with your OB/GYN first before you make a decision to try any weight-loss surgery.
The study was published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Sources: Michelle Castillo, http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-204_162-57586480/moms-who-had-weight-loss-surgery-may-pass-on-healthier-genes