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Maternal Obesity and the Gut Microbiome

Written by
Dr Fathalla Ali, PHD Paediatrics


  • Maternal obesity is the result of complex and multifactorial pathways and is associated with multiple pregnancy complications such as increased risk of miscarriage, gestational diabetes, hypertension, and preeclampsia as well as increased risk of cesarean section delivery.
  • Maternal obesity is the key predictor of childhood obesity and metabolic diseases in adulthood and is associated with abnormal feto-placental function and the risk of offspring obesity.
  • Microbiota is believed to contribute to obesity development through the response to changing nutritional and endocrine stimuli.
  • The successful development of gut microbiota is important for modulating energy extraction, lipid metabolism, polysaccharide metabolism, regulating fat storage, producing essential nutrients and protecting against colonization by pathogenic bacteria.
  • Maternal gut microbiota plays an important role in pregnancy outcomes through the effects on maternal adaptation to pregnancy, placental function and fetal intrauterine environment.
  • Obesity during pre-pregnancy affected the gut microbiota composition during pregnancy
  • In non-obese women, the gut microbiota is stable and healthy and lead to normal gut development and metabolic function in the offspring.
  • In obese women, the gut microbiota disrupted and lead to poor or altered fetal microbiota development and mediated increased chronic disease risk.
  • Manipulation of maternal nutrition during pre-pregnancy and during pregnancy has direct impact on fetal growth and environment.

Keywords: Maternal obesity, gut microbiome, pre-pregnancy, non-obese women


Gohir, W., Ratcliffe, E. & Sloboda, D. Of the bugs that shape us: maternal obesity, the gut microbiome, and long-term disease risk. Pediatric Research, 77, 196–204 (2015). Click here.

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