Sunday, March 2, 2008

Childhood obesity leads to higher rate of problems during surgery

Add this to the growing list of health challenges faced by obese children: A new study from the University of Michigan Health System finds that obese children are much more likely than normal-weight children to have problems with airway obstruction and other breathing-related functions during surgery.

Obese children were found to have a higher rate of difficult mask ventilation, airway obstruction, major oxygen desaturation (a decrease in oxygen in the patient's blood), and other airway problems.

The study appears in the March issue of the journal Anesthesiology.

In addition to the problems the obese patients experienced during surgery, they also had a higher rate of illnesses and conditions including asthma, hypertension, sleep apnea and Type II diabetes. These conditions all can contribute to problems during surgery, researchers note.

By the numbers:

- An estimated 15 to 17 percent of children and adolescents in the United States are considered obese.
- Major airway obstructions occurred in 19 percent of obese children, compared with 11 percent of normal-weight children.
- Nearly 9 percent of obese children experienced difficult mask ventilation, compared with 2 percent of normal-weight children.
- 17 percent of obese children in the study experienced major oxygen desaturation (decreased oxygen in the blood), compared with 9 percent of normal-weight children.
- 28 percent of obese children had asthma, compared with 16 percent of normal-weight children.

It should be noted however, that despite the increased risk of adverse events among children who are obese, none resulted in significant illness.

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Childhood obesity leads to higher rate of problems during surgery

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