Obesity epidemic is putting unborn children at risk

Health professionals are dealing with "an epidemic of obesity" among pregnant women as weight gain across the population continues to rise, experts warn today.

About half of women of childbearing age are now either overweight (with a BMI measured at 25-29.9) or obese (with a BMI of 30 or above), according to the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (Nice).

The organisation today launches new public health guidance on weight management before, during and after pregnancy, in the face of concern about the risks obesity poses to mothers and babies.

Potential complications include miscarriage, pre-eclampsia, thromboembolism and maternal death. Research also suggests obese women are more likely to have an induced or longer labour, instrumental delivery or a postpartum haemorrhage.

Babies born to obese women faced significant health risks such as a greater chance of congenital abnormality, shoulder dystocia – where a baby's shoulder becomes stuck – and the potential for a baby to be too large for their gestational age, increasing the likelihood of obesity in childhood. They are also more likely to be stillborn. The guidelines outlined the importance for women in achieving a healthy weight and BMI prior to pregnancy and stressed there was no need to "eat for two".

The document, aimed at helping GPs, obstetricians, midwives, health visitors and dieticians support pregnant women, also advised against females trying to lose weight or go on a "crash diet" during pregnancy.

It stressed the need to provide women with advice on reducing their weight safely after childbirth, with information on healthy eating and exercise or a structured weight loss programme for those with a BMI of 30 or more.

Louise Silverton, the deputy general secretary of the Royal College of Midwives, said: "There is a real need to address the issue of obesity, and this draft guidance shows this is particularly important for pregnant women. The growing volume of evidence shows that the health of a mother with obesity is further compromised by the pregnancy, also impacting the health of her unborn baby.

"Midwives are ideally placed to assist women in developing healthy lifestyles during pregnancy and during the postnatal period. As a result of the increase in obesity among pregnant women, midwives are, on top of the continuing baby boom, dealing with more complex births.

"These women need to see a midwife as early as possible in their pregnancy. They need more time to spend with a midwife to help and advise them as well as involving the wider healthcare team."

Professor Lucilla Poston, director of maternal and fetal research at King's College London, said: "We have an epidemic of obesity amongst our pregnant population. At St Thomas'... there has been an exponential increase in obesity amongst our women attending antenatal clinics, such that now 40 per cent of the women are overweight or obese, and in the UK the best statistics we have suggests between 15 per cent and 20 per cent of pregnant women are coming into pregnancy with a BMI which is less than ideal."

She added that obese women were at an increased risk of "almost every complication in the book in pregnancy".

Annie Anderson, professor of food choice at the University of Dundee's Centre for Public Health Nutrition Research said: "It's estimated that, over the last 20 years, the number of women into their pregnancy in the obese category has doubled. It's going to get bigger and it's time to take stock about what to do about that."

News
people
News
A survey carried out by Sainsbury's Finance found 20% of new university students have never washed their own clothes, while 14% cannot even boil an egg
science...and the results are not as pointless as that sounds
News
politicsIs David Cameron trying to prove he's down with the kids?
News
Dominique Alderweireld, also known as Dodo de Saumure, is the owner of a string of brothels in Belgium
newsPhilip Sweeney gets the inside track on France's trial of the year
PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
News
Cumberbatch was speaking on US television when he made the comment (Getty)
people
Life and Style
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Tom DeLonge, Travis Barker and Mark Hoppus of Blink-182 pictured in 2011.
musicBassist Mark Hoppus and drummer Travis Barker say Tom Delonge is 'disrespectful and ungrateful'
Sport
football
Arts and Entertainment
Olivia Colman and David Tennant star in 'Broadchurch'
tvBroadchurch series 2, episode 4, review - contains spoilers
Sport
cyclingDisgraced cycling star says people will soon forgive his actions
News
Britain's Prince Philip attends a Garden Party at Buckingham Palace in London
people
Arts and Entertainment
Ed Sheeran will play three sell-out gigs at Wembley Stadium in July
music
News
i100
News
Lena Dunham posing for an official portrait at Sundance 2015
people
Arts and Entertainment
Under the skin: Sarah Kane in May 1998
theatreThe story behind a new season of Sarah Kane plays
Arts and Entertainment
Preening: Johnny Depp in 'Mortdecai'
filmMortdecai becomes actor's fifth consecutive box office bomb
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Recruitment Genius: Technical Manager - R&D - Paint

    £35000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This growing successful busines...

    Recruitment Genius: Technical Advisor - Automotive Parts

    £16400 - £17500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This leading online E-commerce ...

    Recruitment Genius: Automotive Parts Manager

    £27300 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join a leading...

    Recruitment Genius: Technical Customer Service Advisor

    £22000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: One of the UK's leading boiler ...

    Day In a Page

    Woman who was sent to three Nazi death camps describes how she escaped the gas chamber

    Auschwitz liberation 70th anniversary

    Woman sent to three Nazi death camps describes surviving gas chamber
    DSK, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel

    The inside track on France's trial of the year

    Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel:
    As provocative now as they ever were

    Sarah Kane season

    Why her plays are as provocative now as when they were written
    Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of a killing in Iraq 11 years ago

    Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of another killing

    Japanese mood was against what was seen as irresponsible trips to a vicious war zone
    Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

    Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

    One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
    The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

    The enemy within

    People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
    'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

    'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

    Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
    Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

    Autumn/winter menswear 2015

    The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore
    'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

    'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

    Army general planning to come out
    Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

    What the six wise men told Tony Blair

    Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
    25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

    25 years of The Independent on Sunday

    The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
    Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
    Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

    Smash hit go under the hammer

    It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
    Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

    The geeks who rocked the world

    A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
    Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

    Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

    Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea