Obesity in pregnancy

expectant mothers who are overweight or obese could be putting their own health and the health of their unborn child at risk, according to UK researchers published in a report today by researchers at the University of Teesside’s School of Health & Social Care. The report is available at http://www.tees.ac.uk/schools/SOH/obesity_maternal.cfm

Carolyn Summerbell, who heads the University of Teesside’s Centre for Food, Physical Activity and Obesity Research, reviewed some of the clinical issues related to caring for obese pregnant mothers. “We’re not trying to blame or stigmatize obese pregnant mothers and we would certainly not recommend that overweight mums-to-be go on crash diets. But our initial findings show reasons for concern with obese pregnant mothers, and there is a lack of weight management guidance and support readily available for them”

Lead researcher Nicola Heslehurst said the research team was alerted to the growing problem by anecdotal evidence from midwives and other staff in maternity units in the region who are increasingly concerned about the apparent increase in the number of women who were obese at the start of their pregnancy.

“Doctors and midwives in the region have expressed concerns about the increase in complications that can arise when mums are obese. One of the problems is that sometimes you can’t see the ultrasound scan of the baby properly in obese pregnant women and this can lead to clinical problems as well as being upsetting for the parents who are not able to see a picture of their baby”.

Dr Judith Rankin, Associate Director of the Regional Maternity Survey Office (RMSO) and a partner in the study, said: “This research will help to inform the [UK’s National Health Service] NHS about the changes needed to the way service delivery is carried out and how the information is collected.”

“While this is clearly a serious issue, we don’t want to do anything that will encourage pregnant women who are obese to go on a crash diet during pregnancy. What they should do is try to eat a healthy diet during pregnancy and then lose weight after their child is born and before they have their next child,” she said.