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Children Born to Women after Bariatric Surgery at Higher Risk of Obesity, Diabetes

Rat study suggests weight-loss surgery alters mothers’ hormone and chemical balance, which harms offspring during gestation and later in life

Annapolis, Md. (November 19, 2015)—Studies show that weight-loss surgery can boost fertility in women and reduce the risk of pregnancy complications that commonly occur in obese women, such as gestational diabetes and preeclampsia. While weight loss surgery improves the metabolic health of mothers, new findings to be presented at Cardiovascular, Renal and Metabolic Diseases: Physiology and Gender support that such surgery has negative consequences on children born after the procedure.

Researchers at the University of Mississippi Medical Center previously observed in rats that offspring born to mothers who underwent vertical sleeve gastrectomy (VSG), a weight loss surgery in which 80 percent of the stomach is removed, bore pups that were smaller than normal and more susceptible to developing diabetes and becoming obese. In this new study, the team observed that female rats who received VSG had smaller litters with smaller pups. Moreover, the placentas of these female rats showed greater activation of genes involved in inflammation and oxygen deficiency.

The data indicate that hormonal and chemical alterations induced by the surgery “may be driving reduced fetal growth. These data further support that the beneficial effects of VSG surgery in adult females may have negative consequences on gestation and beyond to their offspring,” the research team said.

Lead investigator Bernadette Grayson, PhD, will present “In Utero Consequences of Rodent Vertical Sleeve Gastrectomy on Maternal Health and Feto-placental Development” as part of the symposium “Obesity, Metabolic Syndrome, Gender and Sex” on Thursday, Nov. 19, at 3 PM in Wye Room of the Crowne Plaza Annapolis Hotel.

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Physiology is the study of how molecules, cells, tissues and organs function in health and disease. Established in 1887, the American Physiological Society (APS) was the first U.S. society in the biomedical sciences field. The Society represents more than 10,500 members and publishes 15 peer-reviewed journals with a worldwide readership.