Pregnancy, work productivity after bariatric surgery studied

In separate research papers, UW Medicine surgeons examine how weight-loss procedures affected patients' back-to-work function and perinatal risk

By Brian Donohue  |  HSNewsBeat  |  Updated 8:00 AM, 10.19.2016

Posted in: Research

  • One study reported gains in productivity among employees who had undergone weight-loss surgery in the previous three years. ThinkStock

JAMA and JAMA Surgery have published studies reporting postoperative experiences of bariatric-surgery patients. The research, separately examining pregnancy risks and back-to-work contributions, involved investigators at UW Medicine in Seattle.

Pregnancy: A 33-year retrospective study of 10,296 subjects showed that infants from mothers with a previous bariatric surgery were at higher risk for perinatal complications compared with infants from the general population. 

Infants from postoperative mothers had higher risks for prematurity, intensive care unit admission, and low birth weight. These risks were the highest in the first three years postoperatively and diminished over time.

“These data suggest that women with a history of bariatric surgery should wait at least three years after their operation before attempting to conceive. This is new information that can help inform counseling for bariatric patients,” said corresponding author Dr. Brodie Parent, a general surgery resident at the University of Washington School of Medicine. JAMA Surgery published the findings; see their video interview with Parent.

Flum-Parent head shots
Drs. David Flum, left, and Brodie Parent.
pictures of UW Medicine doctors David Flum and Brodie Parent.

"We knew that women with a history of bariatric surgery are a high-risk group for childbirth. Ours is some of the first data to look at their risk over time after recovery from the operation," Parent said.

Compared with infants from mothers with greater than a four-year operation-to-birth interval, infants from mothers with less than a two-year interval had higher risks for prematurity (12 percent vs. 17 percent), NICU admission (12 percent vs. 18 percent), and small gestational size (9 percent vs 13 percent).

Back-to-work contribution:  A study examined “before” and “after” prevalence of workplace absenteeism (missed work due to health) and presenteeism (at work but not fully productive due to health or distraction) among of 1,105 employed people who had undergone bariatric surgery. Findings indicated that the prevalence of absenteeism was reduced at Year 1 (10 percent of the cohort) vs presurgery (15 percent), but did not significantly differ from presurgery at Year 2 or 3. Prevalence of presenteeism (62 percent presurgery) dropped dramatically in Year 1 post-surgery (31 percent), though it crept back up slightly in Year 2 (35 percent) and Year 3 (41 percent).

“Even with that, it’s a significant improvement in workplace productivity – an important consideration for employers who choose insurance plans for their workforce,” said Dr. David Flum, a UW professor of surgery and co-lead author in the multi-institution investigation. JAMA published the findings Oct. 18.

This study involved the National Institutes of Health-funded Longitudinal Assessment of Bariatric Surgery (LABS), which is following some 2,500 patients for seven years after surgery to examine a variety of outcomes. “This is one of the few studies to look at the societal impact of this surgery,” Flum said.

Tagged with: obesity, bariatric surgery, workplace, pregnancy
Contact us about this story.