Maternal obesity and diabetes as risk factors for adverse pregnancy outcomes: differences among 4 racial/ethnic groups

Am J Public Health. 2005 Sep;95(9):1545-51. doi: 10.2105/AJPH.2005.065680.


Objectives: We examined associations between obesity, diabetes, and 3 adverse pregnancy outcomes--primary cesarean delivery, preterm birth, and low birth-weight (LBW)--by racial/ethnic group. Our goal was to better understand how these associations differentially impact birth outcomes by group in order to develop more focused interventions.

Methods: Data were collected from the 1999, 2000, and 2001 New York City birth files for 329,988 singleton births containing information on prepregnancy weight and prenatal weight gain. Separate logistic regressions for 4 racial/ethnic groups predicted the adverse pregnancy outcomes associated with diabetes. Other variables in the regressions included obesity, excess weight gain, hypertension, preeclampsia, and substance use during pregnancy (e.g., smoking).

Results: Chronic and gestational diabetes were significant risks for a primary cesarean and for preterm birth in all women. Diabetes as a risk for LBW varied by group. For example, whereas chronic diabetes increased the risk for LBW among Asians, Hispanics, and Whites (adjusted odds ratios=2.28, 1.69, and 1.59), respectively, it was not a significant predictor of LBW among Blacks.

Conclusions: In this large, population-based study, obesity and diabetes were independently associated with adverse pregnancy outcomes, highlighting the need for women to undergo lifestyle changes to help them control their weight during the childbearing years and beyond.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • African Americans / statistics & numerical data
  • Cesarean Section
  • Diabetes, Gestational / complications*
  • Diabetes, Gestational / ethnology
  • European Continental Ancestry Group / statistics & numerical data
  • Female
  • Hispanic Americans / statistics & numerical data
  • Humans
  • Infant, Low Birth Weight
  • Infant, Newborn
  • New York City / epidemiology
  • Obesity / complications*
  • Obesity / ethnology
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Complications / epidemiology
  • Pregnancy Complications / ethnology*
  • Pregnancy Outcome*
  • Premature Birth / ethnology
  • Prevalence
  • Risk Factors