Body Fat Linked to Preeclampsia

Recent research indicates that chemicals in fat tissue may trigger preeclampsia-a condition that causes a pregnant woman's blood pressure to rise sharply, putting both mother and baby at risk.

US Researchers, based at the Magee Women's Research Institute in Pittsburgh, studied over 1,000 pregnant women. About 6% went on to develop the potentially life threatening condition.

Direct link to women's weight
The researchers found a direct link between the women's weight before they became pregnant and their risks of developing preeclampsia. For instance, women who were obese before they were pregnant were three times more likely to develop preeclampsia compared to those of normal weight. Women who were overweight were twice as likely to suffer problems. Those who were underweight were half as likely to experience difficulties compared to those of normal weight.

The results of the study showed that the risks increased steadily depending on how much body fat the women had before they were pregnant. While further studies are needed, they suggested that chemicals produced by fat tissue may be responsible.

Could lead to new treatments
The findings could lead to new treatments to protect against the condition. However, the researchers said the study also highlighted the importance for women of being normal weight when they become pregnant.

The results of the study were presented at the American Society for Nutritional Sciences annual meeting in Washington D.C.