Prenatal Vitamin Levels a Concern After Weight Loss Surgery
WEDNESDAY July 21, 2010 -- Women who have weight loss surgery may put their future babies at risk caused by vitamin deficiencies, say Australian researchers.
The study authors documented the case of a woman who had biliopancreatic diversion surgery for obesity seven years before the birth of her child. At nine weeks' gestation, the mother was diagnosed with severe deficiencies of vitamins A, D and K, as well as iron-deficiency anemia. Despite treatment, the woman's vitamin A level remained critically low throughout her pregnancy.
Her son was born with significant malformations of both eyes, and his vision remains poor despite treatment, the researchers reported. They noted that the first eight weeks of gestation are the most critical period in the development of organs, including formation of the visual system.
The article was released in the June issue of the Journal of AAPOS, the publication of the American Association for Pediatric Ophthalmology and Strabismus.
"The mother's description of night blindness, recurrent low vitamin A levels during the pregnancy, and demonstrated vitamin A deficiency in the neonate support vitamin A deficiency as the cause. This case illustrates that vitamin A is very important for normal eye development in the fetus, particularly for pregnant women who have undergone gastric bypass surgery in order to improve their fertility," lead investigator Dr. Glen Gole, of the department of ophthalmology at Royal Children's Hospital and Discipline of Pediatrics and Child Health, University of Queensland, Brisbane, said in an AAPOS news release.
"Weight-reduction surgery is becoming more common, especially with the potential for health benefits that result from reducing obesity," commented journal editor-in-chief Dr. David G. Hunter, in the news release. "Unfortunately some forms of this surgery cause vitamin deficiency, and in this case the problem led to a birth defect that caused blindness in one child. We are not aware of any other cases of this particular problem, but it is important for any woman who has had this form of gastric bypass surgery to be checked for vitamin deficiency -- and have it corrected -- before considering having a baby."
The U.S. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases has more about bariatric surgery.
Posted: July 2010
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