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The effect of obesity on pregnancy outcomes among Australian Indigenous and non-Indigenous women

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Eliminating disparities between the health status of Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians is a national priority.1 Obesity (body mass index [BMI] ≥ 30.0 kg/m2) is a major contributor to chronic diseases.2,3 As obesity rates at all ages are higher among Indigenous Australians,4 obesity-related health disparities between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians are a public health concern.

In Australia, maternal overweight (BMI, 25.0–29.9 kg/m2) and obesity are endemic in obstetric care.5 Consistent with national estimates,4 32% of non-Indigenous women with singleton pregnancies at the Mater Mothers’ Hospital in Brisbane between 1998 and 2009 were overweight or obese before pregnancy.5 The rate among Indigenous women was even higher, at 45%.5 The association between overweight or obesity and pregnancy outcomes in Australia is well described for non-Indigenous women, but less comprehensively understood for Indigenous women. These studies have consistently shown that maternal overweight or obesity is associated with increased risk of maternal complications (including gestational diabetes and…