Scientists at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore examined the records of more than 20,000 women who underwent weight-loss surgery between 2002 and 2006. They identified 346 women who had given birth prior to having the surgery, and 354 who had the surgery before becoming pregnant. Among those women, most gave birth about 20 months after having surgery.
Among the women who had their babies before having surgery, 27 percent developed gestational diabetes. In the group that had surgery first, only 8 percent developed the condition. The women who had surgery first also had fewer cesarean sections.
Scientists also considered the age of the women and whether they had a cesarean section in the past - both factors that increase the odds of having a c-section. When these factors were taken into consideration, they determined that weight-loss surgery was associated with a 77 percent decrease in the risk of gestational diabetes and a 52 percent reduction in the odds of a c-section.
Study authors note that because the study was a review of medical records, it may be less accurate than a controlled study where women were followed over time to observe the outcomes of their pregnancy. Lead study author Dr. Anne E. Burke states that it would be difficult to conduct a randomized clinical trial comparing the outcomes of women who had surgery before pregnancy to those who had the surgery later. However, it would be possible to monitor the outcomes of pregnant weight-loss surgery patients and compare them to obese women who had not undergone the procedure.
Dr. Burke does not necessarily recommend that women delay becoming pregnant until after having weight-loss surgery, but encourages them to try to improve their health through diet and exercise if pregnancy is a goal.