The Risk of Birth Defects to Children of Obese Mothers Reduced by Weight-Loss Surgery

In a recent article in JAMA, the risk of major birth defects was found to be about 30% lower in children whose mother had weight-loss surgery than in children of obese untreated women. [Neovius M, et al. JAMA. 2019;doi:10.1001/jama.2019.12925].

Swedish researchers examined data on more than 33,000 births between 2007 and 2014. The risk of major birth defects was 4.9% in children born to untreated obese women as compared to 3.5% among normal weight women. But the risk of major birth defects was reduced to 3.4% in the children born to women who had gastric bypass surgery.

This research serves to assuage fears that bariatric surgery creates nutritional deficiencies which might increase the risk of birth defects and can’t be satisfactorily managed by patients taking their recommended nutritional supplements.

Cleveland Clinic Study Finds Weight Loss Surgery Decreases Risk of Heart Attack and Stroke

Dr. Steven Nissen and colleagues compared the impact of various types of bariatric surgery on almost 2,300 people to the usual medical care on more than 11,000 obese patients with similar symptoms treated between 1998 and 2017 at the Cleveland Clinic.

Those having bariatric surgery lost more weight and had fewer heart attacks, fewer strokes, a lower incidence of kidney and heart failure, a lower incidence of atrial fibrillation, lower blood sugar levels, and experienced a 41% lower over all morbidity during the study.  Additionally, those who had surgery used fewer medications for diabetes and other conditions.

The researchers concluded that many of the deleterious effects of obesity are potentially reversible.

Obesity Surgery Benefits May Be Greater For Teens Than Adults

obese kids
 

Most obese teens remain obese as adults, and adults who were obese as teens are unhealthier than those who become obese later in life. 

A new study presented at the Combating Childhood Obesity Conference in Houston (Weight Loss and Health Status 3 Years after Bariatric Surgery in Adolescents. Inge TH, Courcoulas AP, Jenkins TM, et al. N Engl J Med 2016; 374:113-123) suggests that teens may benefit more from early surgery than adults.  

The researchers compared results from two studies of gastric bypass surgery in 161 teens and 396 adults who had been obese since they were teens. Three years after their operations, both groups had lost between 26% to 29% of their weigh and Diabetes went into remission in 86% of teens and 53% of adults diagnosed with the disease before surgery. High blood pressure was also normalized in 68% of teens and 41% of adults.

Although a 2% mortality accompanied surgery in both groups, two of the teens died from drug overdoses, suggesting substance abuse and self harm may accompany teen obesity.

The researchers documented the durability of clinically meaningful weight loss and metabolic improvements and weight-related quality of life among adolescents who underwent gastric bypass surgery or sleeve gastrectomy. The benefits of these current bariatric surgical alternatives must be viewed in the context of the risks of nutritional deficiencies and the possibility that future surgical procedures will be needed in some patients.

It is this author’s hope that Endoscopic Visceral Lipectomy, which does not expose the patient to the nutritional and surgical risks inherent in bypass surgery¬†or sleeve gastrectomy, may prove equally effective and a safer minimally invasive¬†intervention for this younger population (Uncoiling the Tightening Obesity Spiral. Cucin RL Clin Res Diab Endocrinol:1(2):1-5 (2018)).