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Weight Has Little Impact on IVF Outcomes

This article at MedPage Today started out pretty good, but ended up with the usual fat-phobic cautions that we always see when researchers find that being fat isn't really the danger they thought it was. Keep in mind that the number of women involved in the study is very small - 241 "overweight" women, 221 "obese" women, and 475 "normal-weight" women, not really enough to draw valid conclusions from, I would think.
If I'm reading this article correctly, infertile women who have a BMI over 25, over 30, and even over 40 don't have any more trouble conceiving, staying pregnant, or delivering when treated at fertility clinics than women who have a BMI between 18.5 and 24.9 (the differences quoted in the study are within the margin of error for such studies).

Among 241 overweight women with a body mass index of 25 to 29.99 kg/m2, the ongoing pregnancy rate was 44.4%, compared with a rate of 40.6% among 475 normal-weight women (P=0.26), said Kim Parker, BS, a medical student at the Regional Fertility Program in Calgary, Alberta.
The rate among 221 women with body mass index in excess of 30 kg/m2 was 41.4% (P=0.90 compared with normal-weight women), Parker said at her poster presentation during the annual meeting of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine.

According to the above, “overweight” women do better than “normal” weight women – 44.4% vs 40.6% (but still within that margin of error). And “obese” women do better than “normal” weight women – 41.4% vs 40.6% (still within the margin of error).

"Overweight and obese patients do not have reduced clinical pregnancy rates, implantation rates, or ongoing pregnancy rates when compared with normal-weight patients," Parker told MedPage Today.

Now, if that's the case, why are doctors at fertility clinics refusing to treat infertile fat women? It can't be that they think they are wasting their time trying to help these women get pregnant, that fat women can't get pregnant even with help, nor can they not stay pregnant if they do happen to get pregnant – this study shows that not to be so. Of course, you can show people facts until the cows come home, but that doesn't mean they will believe those facts or act on them.

Parker noted that the study did not take into consideration possible pregnancy-related complications that might have been caused by excess weight. Parker said that the study is continuing.
While the study did not appear to show problems with higher body mass index, Parker and colleagues recommended that "patients who are obese should be encouraged to reduce their overall body weight and have a return to health before attempting to become pregnant."

And of course, the article has to end with the usual fat-hating cautionary canard – pregnancy-related complications caused by excess weight (never mind that those same complications can be found in “normal-size” women).
And it also has to throw in that fat women need to be “encouraged” to reduce their weight and “return to health” before attempting to become pregnant. Never mind that fat women can have normal blood pressure, normal blood sugar, normal cholesterol, and be physically fit, just like their thinner sisters. Talk about conflating size with health – what started out to be a fair article for helping infertile fat women become pregnant ended with the usual fat-phobic nonsense.

Natalie Perkins featured in xoJane | The Edmonton Staging System: Post 1, Basics.

DeeLeigh's picture
November 8th, 2011 | Link | Not only does that sentence

Not only does that sentence (patients who are obese should be encouraged to reduce their overall body weight and have a return to health before attempting to become pregnant.) imply that fat=unhealthy, it implies that all fat women were once thin. Not true, and not true.

richie79's picture
November 10th, 2011 | Link | I can't find them to link to

I can't find them to link to now, but I vaguely recall a couple of studies, reported by the BBC some years ago back when the HFEA (the governing body which oversees fertility matters in Britain) was first considering introducing a blanket ban on IVF for fat women, which drew similar conclusions - that there was no statistically significant corellation between maternal BMI and the success rates of treatment (or for that matter subsequent complications during pregnancy or delivery).

The fact that the ban was introduced anyway (and with widespread support from within the profession) suggests that it was motivated not by concerns over the safety of women and their babies, or even the unjustified costs of unsuccessful treatments (how many THIN women undergo numerous cycles before conceiving?) but by the too-good-to-ignore opportunity of acquiring another weapon with which to beat fat people into submission as part of their war on 'the obese'.

"What is right is not always popular and what is popular is not always right" - Albert Einstein

AndyJo's picture
November 11th, 2011 | Link | A Familiar Pattern...

This familiar pattern always repeats when there is a study that contradicts what physicians say. Despite ALL the facts contradicting what has been said about fat and whatever is being studied, the last message in these articles can be described as: "but we won't back off what we said before about you fatties losing weight. If we did, you would go out and gorge yourselves and get even fatter".

Further evidence it is never really about health.

--Andy Jo--

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