MadSci Network: Medicine

Re: How does anorexia or any other eating disorder affect a developing baby?

Date: Sun Feb 8 21:35:16 2004
Posted By: Jeffrey Utz, Software Engineer
Area of science: Medicine
ID: 1073416194.Me

Anorexia is an eating disorder in which the person (usually females) feel that they are too fat even though they either have a normal weight or are even underweight.

When a baby is developing, anorexia and the malnutrition that results from it can cause complicatons like premature delivery and low birthweight. These babies are more likely to be born by Caesarian section and have low Apgar scores. (Apgar scores are done right after a baby is born to measure how well the baby's heart is pumping blood and breathing and helps guide doctors and nurses in determining if any additional help needs to be given to the baby.) In addition, babies born to women with anorexia are also more likely to have birth defects. Other eating disorders have similar effects on the baby.

Women who have anorexia also have low body fat (as a result of eating so much less than they should). These women have lower levels of sex hormones and often don't have menstral periods because of the low body fat (this is called amenorrhea). In addition, women with anorexia can lose the ability to ever have children.

As you can see, anorexia is a serious condition. It often helps if students who are concerned about themselves or friends talk to an adult, like a parent, school counselor, teacher or doctor about this. (Many communities have special health clinics for teens where they can go to talk about these and other things.)

References about anorexia: eens/eating.html

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