A new study in Australia revealed that obese pregnant women who choose to undergo cesarean section (C-section) contribute to increasing health care costs in hospitals as management acquires more equipment such as trolleys in order to move them around more easily for surgery.

Researchers said that one in every three pregnant women undergoing C-section is obese and requires more doses of anesthesia. More doses mean more time under the anesthesia, and this amounts to an extra AU$25, or around US$18, to the health care cost for each additional minute the patient is on an anesthetic. 

The study reports that the average anesthesia time for obese pregnant women going through C-section increased up to 18 minutes.

In a study called MUM SIZE conducted by the University of Melbourne, researchers examined 1500 pregnant women undergoing C-section and how factors such as size and time affect the delivery. Gynecologists say that C-section is much safer for obese pregnant women than a normal childbirth.

Of the respondents, 28 percent or almost one-third of the group included obese and very obese pregnant women.

Researchers found that the average length of time under the care of anesthetists for a pregnant woman of normal weight undergoing a C-section is about 72 minutes. For obese pregnant women with a body mass index (BMI) of 35 to 45, the increase in time was 10 percent, while for the very obese pregnant women with a BMI of 45 and over, the increase in time was 25 percent.

Meanwhile, the Australian and New Zealand College of Anesthetists (ANZCA) has reported adjustments regarding the practice of anesthetics in the region. The organization has celebrated National Anesthesia Day to help spread public awareness about the risks of anesthesia and how it can be prevented. They also focused on the economic unbudgeted cost that obesity in pregnancy has caused.

Dr. Genevieve Goulding, president of ANZCA, said that over the last 20 years, obesity had become one of the most compelling problems for anesthetists in the management of their patients. Anesthetists have begun to establish special guidelines regarding the matter.

"It is important for every patient expecting elective surgery to discuss the risk associated with excess weight with their medical team, including their anesthetist," said Goulding.

She added that trained medical professionals can advise obese pregnant women about steps they need to take to lower risks such as diabetes and sleep apnea by possible means of weight reduction, quitting smoking and proper exercise.

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