Shock obesity levels of pregnant women
ATHIRD of pregnant women locally were overweight or obese at their first appointment with a midwife - with experts warning that obese parents are more likely to raise obese children.
In 2017, 32% of women attending their first antenatal appointment with a midwife at Southport and Ormskirk Hospital NHS Trust were above their recommended weight, analysis of maternity service statistics published by NHS Digital shows.
In all, the data showed that 1,020 women were considered overweight or obese out of the 3,220 at antenatal appointments last year.
Although high, it was still the lowest rate in Merseyside, as more than half of the women at their first appointment at St Helens and Knowsley Hospital Services NHS Trust and Liverpool Women’s NHS Foundation Trust were above their recommended weight - which is one of the highest proportions in England.
A Southport Slimming World consultant, Dee Wright, said: “I was morbidly obese carrying my daughter, Autumn, and was under the dietician and was borderline gestational diabetes... once I had her, the weight piled on and I walked into Slimming World when she was two.”
She added: “We support lots of women trying to conceive, pregnant women carrying a baby and breastfeeding women to lose weight.”
A person is considered overweight when their body mass index (BMI) - a measure of body fat based on weight in relation to height - is between 25 and 29.9 and obese when it is 30 or higher.
Nationally, 38% of women were above their recommended weight in 2017.
There were 140,236 overweight and 108,547 obese mothers-tobe recorded at antenatal appointments.
Ayela Spiro, nutrition science manager at British Nutrition Foundation said: “Increasing evidence suggests an important role for maternal obesity in the development of childhood obesity and subsequent adult disease.
“Offspring of obese women are more likely to become obese as children or adults. Childhood obesity tracks into adulthood, with increased risk of cardiovascular disease and Type 2 diabetes.
“After pregnancy, mothers can continue to influence their infant’s weight status.
“Breastfeeding is associated with a reduced risk of childhood obesity but maternal obesity has been recognised as a risk factor for decreased initiation and duration of breastfeeding.
“It is well recognised that children who are obese are more likely to have obese parents.
“The association between maternal and child obesity stems from a number of factors including the in utero environment (the environment experienced by the foetus), but also postnatally from shared dietary, physical and behavioural characteristics.”
Ms Spiro added that obesity can also put the mother’s health in danger.
She said: “Most women who are very overweight have a successful pregnancy, but studies show that maternal obesity increases the risk of complications for pregnant women and their babies, and the higher the BMI, the higher the risks.
“Maternal obesity is associated with an increased risk of gestational diabetes, pre-eclampsia, miscarriage, and of complications during labour and birth.
“Babies born to women who are obese are at increased risk of congenital abnormalities (birth defects) and of stillbirth.”