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BJOG. 2006 Oct;113(10):1173-7.

Linear association between maternal pre-pregnancy body mass index and risk of caesarean section in term deliveries.

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Service de Gynécologie et Obstétrique, Groupe Hospitalier Sud Réunion, Saint-Pierre Cedex, La Réunion, France.



Maternal obesity is a well-known risk factor for caesarean delivery. The aim of this study is to determine whether all the spectrum of pre-pregnancy maternal corpulence (body mass index [BMI]) is associated with the risk of caesarean delivery.


Observational study over 4.5 years (2001-05).


Groupe Hospitalier Sud-Réunion's maternity (island of La Réunion, French overseas department, Indian Ocean).


All consecutive singleton live births having delivered at the maternity.


Data have been analysed according to different risk factors. Maternal corpulence has been defined as the maternal pre-pregnancy weight. BMIs have been studied by multiples of 5 kg/m2 from 10-14.9 kg/m2 to 40-44.9 kg/m2.


Rate of caesarean section.


There were 17 462 singleton live births during the period, of which 16 952 (97.1% of the total) pre-pregnancy BMIs have been determined. There is a linear association (chi 2 for linear trend, P < 0.001) between maternal corpulence and risk of caesarean deliveries, the leanest mothers having the best rate of vaginal delivery. This linear association exists in a model controlling for diagnosis of gestational diabetes, term deliveries (> or =37 weeks), very short maternal height (<1.50 m), primiparity and maternal age > or = 35 years (adjusted chi 2, P < 0.001).


There is a significant linear association between pre-pregnancy maternal corpulence and risk of caesarean deliveries in pregnancies at term. The authors discuss several interpretations including the adaptability of fetal birthweights to maternal corpulence and the concept of soft-tissue dystocia.

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