Paving a smoother road for mums post weight loss surgery

RBWH senior dietitian Taylor Guthrie

Putting on weight is a normal part of pregnancy, but for women who have had weight loss surgery it can be a challenge.

A dietitian-led research study at Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital is looking at improving nutrition for pregnant women who have had bariatric surgery.

The BUMP study is the first and largest of its kind in Australia and has been developed by RBWH senior dietitian Taylor Guthrie in collaboration with researchers from The University of Queensland.

Ms Guthrie said her study aims to investigate nutrition during pregnancy, as poor nutrition can increase the risk of babies being born prematurely or too small and have lifelong impacts on mother and child.

“Currently, research estimates that among women who fall pregnant after weight loss surgery, 11 per cent have preterm births. This is a 20 per cent increased risk compared to mothers without weight loss surgery,” Taylor said.

“As the stomach size is reduced during bariatric surgery, it limits the amount of food a recipient can eat and the ability of the gut to absorb vitamin and minerals from food.

“This can make it difficult for women to eat enough to support their baby’s growth and their own healthy pregnancy weight gain.”

With minimal research available for dietitians, Taylor hopes her study will fill the gaps and inform nutrition advice so that more women can have healthy pregnancies after weight loss surgery.

“I’ve worked with women post-surgery who don’t experience any issues with their eating or weight gain and others who struggle and experience complications like deficiencies, preterm birth or smaller babies,” she said.

“There aren’t many studies that have investigated diet, weight gain or vitamin and mineral deficiency in pregnant women post weight loss surgery before.

“My study will do just that in the hope that we can understand this relationship a little more and provide better advice to women about nutrition.”

Taylor said The BUMP Study team are hoping to recruit 300 women to participate in the study by the end of 2023.

“We are looking for women birthing at RBWH, Caboolture, Redcliffe, Logan and Mackay Base hospitals who have had weight loss surgery and are less than 20 weeks pregnant,” Taylor said.

“As part of the study we will collect information on their eating, weight gain, and their use of multivitamin supplements throughout pregnancy.

“The plan is to translate the findings of my study into clinical practice by contributing to a review of clinical guidelines and through networks with dietitians and other health professionals across Queensland.”

If you have had bariatric surgery and are fewer than 20 weeks pregnant, register here today.

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