Teenage girls who’ve undergone obesity surgery may not absorb enough of a vitamin needed to have healthy babies, raising the risk of bearing children with spine and brain birth defects, a study suggests.

While adolescents are having gastric bypass surgery, little is known about its long-term consequences, said Diana Farmer, who presented the study yesterday at the American Association of Pediatrics. “The possibility of future birth defects may outweigh the benefit,” said Farmer, chief of pediatric surgery at Benioff Children’s Hospital at the University of California, San Francisco.

Farmer’s report focuses on rising rates of adolescent obesity and using gastric bypass surgery to combat it. Since 2001, the number of bariatric procedures has risen sixfold, according to the American Society of Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery. About 17 percent of children and adolescents are obese, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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