Equal Access to Fertility Treatment Urged for Obese

Overweight and obese women have the same chance of having a baby through in vitro fertilization (IVF) as normal-weight women, according to a recent study, and therefore shouldn’t be discriminated against at fertility clinics.     In Britain, where the study was done, most local health-care entities will not allow fertility treatment for obese women – that is, those with a body mass index of 30 or above. A study on 1,700 women in Aberdeen, Scotland, however, showed that there was no difference between normal, overweight or obese women in their ability to become pregnant and ultimately give birth.

Nevertheless, women in the non-normal categories suffered miscarriages at a higher rate than normal-weight subjects, and were at higher risk of other complications. Furthermore, doctors had to administer larger doses of fertility drugs to stimulate the ovaries of the heavier women.

The research team, which published their work in the journal Human Reproduction, examined patients who had their first IVF treatment from 1997 to 2006. More than 25 percent were overweight, 8 percent were obese and 5 percent were severely obese (having a body mass index of 40 or more). The results of the investigation indicated that there were no further costs involved at birth, in spite of beliefs that costs would be higher for obese women.
   
“[The study] shows that age is a more important factor than weight,” said study leader Abha Maheshwari, a clinical lecturer in reproductive medicine at the University of Aberdeen, who urged that overweight women not be discriminated against. “Everybody should be encouraged to lose weight, but treatment shouldn’t be declined on weight alone.”


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