Babies 'at risk after weight loss ops'
Threat of premature births for mums who go under the knife
Women who undergo weight-loss surgery may be at a greater risk of complications in pregnancy or at birth, research suggests.
Babies born to those who have gone under the knife are more likely to be premature, small, have birth defects and be admitted to intensive care, according to the Newcastle University study.
Mothers-to-be who have had procedures such as gastric bypass surgery should be given extra support in light of the findings, the authors said.
The study, presented at the European Congress on Obesity in Glasgow, compared data on more than 14,800 pregnancies in women who had previously undergone weight-loss surgery and around four million who had not.
Weight-loss surgery before pregnancy can reduce the risk of gestational diabetes and high blood pressure, the researchers said.
However, the study found babies born after such procedures were 57pc more likely to be premature, 29pc more likely to have birth defects, and 41pc more likely to be admitted to a neonatal intensive care unit than those whose mothers had not undergone surgery.
These babies were also at a 38pc greater risk of being stillborn or dying within seven days of birth and were an average of around 200g lighter, the authors found.
It is not clear how weight-loss surgery impacts fetal development but the researchers said some procedures affected the absorption of certain vitamins and minerals, which may have a negative effect.
Zainab Akhter, who led the research at Newcastle University, said: "Our findings indicate that women with a history of bariatric surgery, and in particular gastric bypass surgery, are at much greater risk of several adverse perinatal outcomes.
"These women require specific preconception and pregnancy nutritional support.
"This highlights the importance of dietary supplements and extra monitoring of fetal growth and development.
"Health professionals also need training and guidance to be able to provide the right advice."
She added: "More work needs to be done to better understand the causes of these differences so that steps can be taken to support women to achieve the best possible pregnancy outcomes for themselves and their babies."
Sally Wardle is a health and science correspondent ©PA