Bariatric Surgery in Women of Childbearing Age and Perinatal Complications Interview with:
Brodie Parent, MD MS

General Surgery R4
University of Washington What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: We already knew that women with a history of bariatric surgery are a high risk group when it comes to childbirth. Our study has confirmed prior data which show that infants from these women are at a higher risk for being premature, low birth-weight, or requiring ICU admission. However, this is some of the first data which looks at their risk over time after recovery from the operation. Data from this study show that risks to the infant are highest in the first 3 years after an operation, and diminish over time. This suggests that women should wait a minimum of three years after an operation before attempting conception. What should readers take away from your report?

Response: The take home message is that bariatric surgery still confers many health benefits for women of child-bearing age, for both the woman and her future child (surgery reduces gestational diabetes and macrosomia, for example).

However, the data from this study suggest that a recent operation (within three years) places infants at higher risk of several complications compared to the baseline population. These risks do appear to diminish over time, and seem to return to baseline population levels of risk about 3 years after the operation. Therefore, the practical recommendation is to defer attempts at conception until at least three years after an operation. This is important information to consider for the patient and her future family. What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?

Response: Future studies should include larger cohorts of patients from a national sample. This would help confirm our findings, and would strengthen any recommendations on the ‘safe’ interval between an operation and future conception. Is there anything else you would like to add?

Response: The biologic reason for the increased risk is still unclear, and we need further studies to better elucidate the exact mechanism. We hypothesize that micronutrient deficiencies and calorie deficits induced by the surgery may lead to issues with subsequent fetal development (manifested by prematurity, low birth weight, and increased ICU admissions). Thank you for your contribution to the community.


Parent B, Martopullo I, Weiss NS, Khandelwal S, Fay EE, Rowhani-Rahbar A. Bariatric Surgery in Women of Childbearing Age, Timing Between an Operation and Birth, and Associated Perinatal Complications. JAMA Surg. Published online October 19, 2016. doi:10.1001/jamasurg.2016.3621

Note: Content is Not intended as medical advice. Please consult your health care provider regarding your specific medical condition and questions.

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