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Obesity problems begin before conception

Anti-obesity campaigns should target women of childbearing age

OnMedica Staff

Tuesday, 10 February 2009

Anti-obesity campaigns should be targeted at women of childbearing age, say lead clinicians.

Senior obstetricians at the Royal Society of Medicine say the government should be funding campaigns to target women of childbearing age because of the risks to both the mother and child during pregnancy and birth.

New research published in the latest issue of Obstetric Medicine looked at 3,642 women booking obstetric services at St Thomas’ Hospital in London, and found that women with a BMI over 25 ran a greater risk of diabetes and hypertension during their pregnancy, and a higher risk of preterm rupture of membranes and of their babies being born prematurely. There was also an increased rate of caesarean delivery.

Dr Eugene Oteng-Ntim, president of the RSM’s Maternity & the Newborn Section and one of the study’s authors, said: “Women of reproductive age need to maintain a healthy weight if they want to have a healthy pregnancy and give birth to healthy children.

"Government obesity campaigns are not paying enough attention to one of the most important groups in the population. Once an obese woman is pregnant, she and her baby already run a greater risk to their health. Obesity problems begin before conception and pregnancy is certainly not the time to start trying to lose weight.”

Professor Philip Steer, President of the RSM’s Obstetrics & Gynaecology Section, agreed.

“We’ve had warnings on cigarette packets telling us that smoking can harm the unborn baby as well as the mother. But there seems to be little effort made to warn mothers about the risk obesity poses to mother and child,” he said.

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