Pre-pregnancy Obesity and the Risk of Peripartum Cardiomyopathy

Seo-Ho Cho, Stephanie A Leonard, Audrey Lyndon, Elliott K Main, Barbara Abrams, Afshan B Hameed, Suzan L Carmichael

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


OBJECTIVE:  The aim of this study is to evaluate the contribution of pre-pregnancy obesity and overweight to peripartum cardiomyopathy.

STUDY DESIGN:  This population-based study used linked birth record and maternal hospital discharge data from live births in California during 2007 to 2012 (n = 2,548,380). All women who had a diagnosis of peripartum cardiomyopathy during the childbirth hospitalization or who were diagnosed with peripartum cardiomyopathy during a postpartum hospital readmission within 5 months of birth were identified as cases. Pre-pregnancy body mass index (BMI, kg/m2) was classified as normal weight (18.5-24.9), overweight (25.0-29.9), obesity class 1 (30.0-34.9), obesity class 2 (35.0-39.9), and obesity class 3 (≥40). Because of small numbers, we excluded women with underweight BMI, and in some analyses, we combined obesity classes into one group. Logistic regression was used to estimate odds ratios (ORs) and 95% confidence intervals (CIs) expressing associations between BMI and peripartum cardiomyopathy, adjusted for maternal age, race/ethnicity, education, health care payer, parity, plurality, and comorbidities.

RESULTS:  The overall prevalence of peripartum cardiomyopathy during hospital admissions was 1.3 per 10,000 live births (n = 320). Unadjusted ORs were 1.32 (95% CI: 1.01-1.74) for women with overweight BMI and 2.03 (95% CI: 1.57-2.62) for women with obesity, compared with women with normal pre-pregnancy BMI. Adjusted ORs were 1.26 (95% CI: 0.95-1.66) for overweight women and 1.38 (95% CI: 1.04-1.84) for women with obesity. The ORs suggested a dose-response relationship with increasing levels of obesity, but the 95% CIs for the specific classes of obesity included 1.00.

CONCLUSION:  Pre-pregnancy obesity was associated with an increased risk of peripartum cardiomyopathy. These findings underscore the importance of BMI during pregnancy. There is a need to recognize the increased risk of peripartum cardiomyopathy in women with high BMI, especially in the late postpartum period.

KEY POINTS: · Pre-pregnancy obesity affects maternal health.. · Effects may extend to peripartum cardiomyopathy.. · The risk includes peripartum cardiomyopathy that emerges postpartum..

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1289-1296
Number of pages8
JournalAmerican Journal of Perinatology
Issue number12
Early online dateJun 8 2020
StatePublished - Oct 1 2021


  • body mass index
  • heart failure
  • hypertensive disorder
  • maternal health
  • pregnancy complication

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Obstetrics and Gynecology


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