Young girls who have had gastric bypass surgery may be at an increased risk of nutritional complications, according to a study presented at the American Academy of Pediatrics National Conference and Exhibition.
As a result of undergoing the weight-loss procedure, female adolescents can suffer from malnutrition, and give birth later in life to children with neural tube problems. This damage affects the nervous system, and can lead to paralysis and mental retardation.
Also, researchers have found that gastric bypass surgery can increase a women’s likelihood of an unintended pregnancy.
The findings suggest that girls who decide to undergo this procedure should participate in several pre-surgery counseling sessions, and attend similar meetings after surgery.
“Although obesity is epidemic in this country, we believe non-reversible gastric bypass surgery should be avoided in adolescent women given the potential increased risk of fetal neural tube defects,” said Diana L. Farmer, lead author of the study. She concluded that if female adolescents have the surgery, “great efforts must be made to minimize the risks of both unintended pregnancies and nutritional deficiencies.”
According to a Centers for Disease Control study conducted from 2007 to 2008, an estimated 17 percent of Americans aged 2 to 19 years were considered obese.