...now browsing by tag


Overweight or Obese? Don’t Count On Your Birth Control Pills.

Wednesday, July 14th, 2010

Since the pill first appeared on the scene, about 50 years ago, women have felt secure knowing that they had an almost foolproof way to avoid unwanted pregnancies. And that’s been mostly true.

But maybe not for all women.

If you’re overweight or obese, recent studies suggest that birth control pills might not be as effective for you as they are for more slender women:

“In one study of oral contraceptive pills, women with a body mass index (BMI) in the overweight range (a BMI of 25 or more) had a higher risk of pregnancy that those in the normal weight range. In another study of contraceptive skin patches, higher body weight — not higher BMI — was associated with higher risks of pregnancy.”

In addition to the sobering news about the lessened effectiveness of hormonal birth control, these birth control methods are thought to slightly increase a woman’s risks of heart disease, high blood pressure and other conditions. When you consider that overweight and obese women are already at increased risk of heart disease, diabetes and other ills, and that pregnancy is a riskier venture, overall, for obese women and their babies, you have a new incentive for getting your weight down.

I know it isn’t easy. I’ve struggled with weight myself and can attest to the fact that it’s a constant battle. But it’s a battle we must fight – and win. And now, we have one more reason to do it.

– Yvonne S. Thornton, MD, MPH

More media attention for the study

Friday, June 5th, 2009

Forbes reports on my study, showing that obese pregnant women should limit weight gain as does Medline.

Other media outlets giving the study prominent coverage are United Press International, Yahoo News, The Baltimore Sun, US News and World Report, and even the Times of India.

– Yvonne S. Thornton

My study on obesity and pregnancy in the news

Wednesday, June 3rd, 2009

I’m pleased to see that the media is getting the word out: obese pregnant women should be eating healthier diets and limiting their weight gain.

In the past few days, I’ve been interviewed by a number of news organizations about the study. You can see some of the reports at the following links:


The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Science Daily

The Los Angeles Times

and Health Day

– Yvonne S. Thornton, MD, MPH

Study’s author concerned that new guidelines for pregnant obese women don’t go far enough

Tuesday, June 2nd, 2009

You may have read the headlines last week that The Institute of Medicine (IOM) is changing its guidelines for obese pregnant women. Instead of recommending that women who are obese gain at least 15 pounds during pregnancy, the IOM now recommends a weight gain of 11 to 20 pounds.

It’s a start. But, as the lead researcher of a new study of obese women, pregnancy and weight gain, I’m concerned that obese women are being told to gain any weight.

My study, which is being published today in the Journal of the National Medical Association, found that obese pregnant women who followed a well-balanced diet and gained little or no weight had maternal-fetal outcomes that were equal to or better than those who gained substantial weight.

As a specialist in high-risk pregnancies who has delivered more than 5,500 babies over a 35-year career and supervised the delivery of 12,000 more, I wasn’t surprised by the findings of our study. I know that those extra pounds mean extra risks for both mother and baby. Obesity greatly increases the chance of developing complications in pregnancy such as preeclampsia, stillbirth, and blood clots, among others.

Twenty-three of the more than 200 obese women in our study lost weight. The average weight gained was just 11 pounds. And yet, these women and their babies were at least as healthy as those who put on substantial pounds. There were fewer babies weighing 10 pounds or more, fewer cesareans, and the mothers were less likely to develop gestational diabetes.

You can read more about the study, here.

So, if you’re carrying significant extra weight, forget the old adage about eating for two. Believe it or not, for a pregnant woman of normal weight, only an additional 300 calories per day is needed during her pregnancy – the equivalent to a quart of skimmed milk per day.

– Yvonne S. Thornton, MD, MPH