And you thought babies on diets was a bad idea… try babies in the womb on diets. When babies in the womb (THE WOMB, PEOPLE!) need their mamas to start popping diet pills in order to prevent obesity, it’s pretty clear that the American obesity epidemic is out of control. The pill I’m referring to is called metformin, and one British doctor, Dr. Hassan Shehata, thinks that giving metformin to overweight mothers may help prevent overly pudgy, or downright fat babies. There’s rational behind this decision, because mother or baby obesity at birth can pose risks to both baby and mama. Of course, as with any medication or drug during pregnancy, there are also risks involved.

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According to Shehata, metformin is very safe during pregnancy when used to treat gestational diabetes, however, Shehata is currently interested in the positive potential this drug may have for obese women who don’t have gestational diabetes, and will be running a clinical trial to learn more. Women enrolled in the clinical trial will take 3,000 milligrams of metformin daily (or a placebo) and both groups of women will follow a diet and exercise plan. Shehata is hoping that metformin helps prevent high birth weights (10 pound or larger babies) which in turn can also help prevent other health complications, such as high blood pressure, gestational diabetes and hemorrhage. Some experts disagree and feel that mamas-to-be should keep their weight down via exercise and healthy eating, not with a pill.

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Risks of an overweight pregnancy

Honestly, it’s hard to care if metformin will, or won’t prevent overweight babies. When we’ve got babies in the womb who need diet pills, we’ve got much bigger fish to fry than whether or not said pill will work. For example, more than one in 20 pregnant UK women – over 38,000 a year – are severely obese. Right now, in the United States, we’ve got 72 million obese individuals – and that figure is quickly growing, meaning, we’ve likely got  more overweight pregnant women here in the U.S. than in the UK. Add to this, that a recent study showed that 1/3 of babies in the USA are obese by nine months of age, and well, we’ve got a big problem (no pun intended).

Studies show that doctors nowadays are reluctant to tell patients that they’re overweight or even obese, but they’re not doing anyone any favors. Being politically correct is lame if it ignores health risks. If you’re thinking about becoming pregnant, and you’re overweight or obese, think twice. If you weigh too much and become pregnant, you’re at an increased risk of…

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What can you do?

  • Achieve a healthy weight for your height and body type BEFORE you become pregnant.
  • Breastfeed – it may help you lose weight and studies show that formula fed babies may be at an increased risk for obesity later on.
  • Get active and stay active. Incorporate healthy activity while your kids are young so it becomes habit. One good healthy and active idea is to start a garden with your kids.

Let us know what you think in the comments. Should mamas-to-be pop diet pills in order to have smaller babies?

+ Learn more about pregnancy and the overweight woman at the March of Dimes.

[Chubby baby header image © Flickr user Evil Erin]