Obesity in pregnant women doubles at Scottish hospital, figures show

The proportion of obese pregnant women doubled at a Scottish hospital in less than a decade, new figures show.

In 2010, 22% of women giving birth at Ayrshire Maternity Unit in Kilmarnock had a body mass index (BMI) above 30, according to a study presented at the European Congress on Obesity in Glasgow.

This rose to 44% in 2018, the researchers said.

“These latest figures are concerning and show how much of a worsening problem obesity in pregnancy has become,” said Dr Laura Jane Erunlu, who led the research at University Crosshouse Hospital, Kilmarnock.

“This may reflect changes across the UK.”

Caesareans on the maternity unit were more common among women with a high BMI, the researchers said.

In 2018, around one in four (27%) pregnant women with a healthy BMI between 21 and 25 had a Caesarean section, compared with more than one in two (54%) who were morbidly obese with a BMI above 40.

Dr Erunlu said: “Pregnant women now tend to be older, heavier, and have more complex medical histories when they become pregnant.

“These complications pose specific challenges to our maternity services, and we must shape our healthcare services with this changing demographic in mind.”

Dr Nathalie Farpour-Lambert, president of the European Association for the Study of Obesity, said: “Maternal obesity, both before and during pregnancy, is a growing public health emergency.

“Obesity during pregnancy is associated with multiple complications both for the mother and the foetus, and also a range of issues for the child after birth.”

She added: “It is important to try and counsel women to be a healthy weight before they become pregnant, and in cases where they are entering pregnancy overweight they should work with their medical team to eat more healthily and exercise more.”

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