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Rubia Khalak, Speaker at Pediatrics Conferences
Department of Pediatrics, Division of Neonatology, Albany Medical Center, Albany, New York, United States


Obesity has become an ever-present problem regardless of age, gender or socioeconomic background. An increase over the past two decades has also been noted in the pregnant population. More women are obese at their first prenatal visit and then subsequently gain more weight throughout the pregnancy than ever before. Maternal obesity can lead to problems not only in the mother but also with the process of labor and ensuing neonatal complications. The National Institute for Health definition of obesity has three levels: Level I: BMI 30-34.9 is associated with high risk of disease, Level II: BMI 35-39.9 is associated with very high risk, Level III: BMI 40 or greater is extremely high risk. The maternal complications include preeclampsia, gestational diabetes mellitus, thromboembolism and increased mortality. The labor complications include increased risk for assisted, instrumental delivery, hemorrhage and cesarean delivery. The increased risk of cesarean section remained higher even when adjusted for potential confounders such as preeclampsia, diabetes and macrosomia. One of the most common neonatal problems associated with maternal obesity is macrosomia with a birthweight greater than 4 kilograms. Other newborn complications include congenital anomalies, stillbirth and hypoglycemia. What is known concerning maternal obesity and neonatal outcomes has improved in recent years; however, the effect of maternal obesity on an infant’s brain and the severity of ischemic damage has not been well studied. Our published research has shown that there are increased risks of difficult delivery room course and respiratory complications to the near-term neonate and the already vulnerable premature infant population. In newly completed research, we have found that there is an increased incidence of hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy (HIE) in infants born to obese mothers.


Dr. Khalak received her MD from SUNY HSC in Syracuse, NY. She did her pediatric residency and neonatology fellowship at University of Rochester in Rochester, NY. While in fellowship, Dr. Khalak was awarded two NIH grants, one in molecular biology and an individual national research science award. Dr. Khalak is currently an Associate Professor in the Department of Pediatrics and Division of Neonatology at Albany Medical College. Dr. Khalak was selected as an active member for the Scientific Pediatric Society and abstract reviewer for SPR. She also serves as a journal reviewer for multiple scholarly journals including J of Pediatric Surgery and J of Perinatology. She has also served on several patient safety committees and palliative care committees. Dr. Khalak serves as the Associate Dean of Enrollment Management and Administration, heading the Admissions Department. Dr. Khalak also serves as an Advising Dean for the medical students.