Obesity during pregnancy alters maternal oxidant balance and micronutrient status

J Perinatol. 2014 Feb;34(2):105-11. doi: 10.1038/jp.2013.153. Epub 2013 Dec 19.


Objective: Little is known about the effect of obesity on inflammatory status in pregnant women. The objective of this study was to determine the effect of obesity on markers of inflammation, oxidative stress and micronutrient status in obese pregnant women and their infants compared with lean controls (Lc).

Study design: This was a prospective case-control study. A total of 15 obese (Ob; body mass index (BMI) >30 kg m(-2)) and 15 lean (BMI 18-25 kg m(-2)) women were recruited based on prepregnancy BMI. Vitamins A, B6, C, E and 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25(OH)D), zinc, red blood cell (RBC) folate, C-reactive protein (CRP), interleukin-6 (IL-6), tumor necrosis factor-α and oxidized and reduced glutathione were measured from maternal blood between 24 and 28 weeks of gestation. Vitamins A, B6, C and E, 25(OH)D, zinc, red blood cell folate, CRP and IL-6 were measured from cord blood at delivery.

Result: Ob pregnant women have statistically significantly lower levels of vitamin B6, vitamin C, vitamin E, RBC folate, higher CRP and IL-6 levels and higher ratio of oxidized to reduced glutathione compared with Lc pregnant women. Infants born to Ob mothers did not have statistically significantly higher measures of inflammation or oxidative stress. There were no differences in micronutrient concentrations between Lc and Ob infants, but folate, vitamin B6 and zinc levels correlated strongly between mother and infant. There was no statistically significant difference in any parameter between Ob and Lc cord blood.

Conclusion: Ob pregnant women have increased inflammation and oxidative stress, and lower levels of nutritional antioxidant defenses compared with Lc pregnant women. We speculate that lower antioxidant defenses combined with increased oxidative stress and inflammation may contribute to the adverse outcomes associated with pregnancy in Ob women.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Antioxidants / analysis*
  • Body Mass Index
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Female
  • Fetal Blood / chemistry*
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn / blood*
  • Micronutrients / blood*
  • Obesity / blood*
  • Pregnancy / blood*
  • Pregnancy Complications / blood*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Vitamins / blood*


  • Antioxidants
  • Micronutrients
  • Vitamins