While bariatric surgery might provide morbidly obese people a second chance at a healthy life, a new study indicates that it might also introduce secondary risks for women who have the surgery and then get pregnant.

“The current information, consolidated with past reports, propose that it might be prudent to observe fetal development in women who have experienced bariatric surgery, especially in those who have had gastric bypass surgery,” writes Aaron Caughey, MD, PhD, of Oregon Health & Science University in Portland,
Caughey also mentions that he would not necessarily suggest antepartum fetal surveillance because there is no current proof that it would improve the results.

The study authors go on to say, however, “For every pregnancy after bariatric surgery, up to five control pregnancies were matched for the mother’s presurgery body-mass index (we utilized early-pregnancy BMI in the controls), age, parity, smoking history, educational level, and delivery year.”
Karolinska Institute postdoctoral researcher and nutritionist, Kari Johansson, of Stockholm, comments, “The number of women who are obese in early pregnancy has increased dramatically over the last decades.” The study author continues, “Consequently, there has been a dramatic rise in the number of women becoming pregnant after bariatric surgery.”

She also points out that “The positive effects of bariatric surgery on health outcomes — such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease — are reasonably well-studied, but less is known about the effects on pregnancy and [post-delivery] outcomes.”

Indeed, this new potential risk is something that has only recently been theorized and partially observed so more research is necessary. Still, it is certainly worth investigating and forewarning those women who satisfy these conditions so as to determine an appropriate course of action in the future.