Obesity 'increasing health risks for mothers and babies'

Obesity during pregnancy could lead to a range of health problems for both expectant mothers and their babies, new research has suggested.

A new systematic review of research by academics at the School of Nursing and Midwifery, Trinity College Dublin, Ireland, the University of Gothenburg, Sweden, and City University London, UK, recommends that mothers struggling with obesity should ideally look to lose weight before their pregnancy.

The findings come on the back of figures suggesting the global rate of maternal obesity has reached epidemic proportions, reaching 31 per cent among women aged 20-39 years in the US, while the European average is 30 and 37 per cent.

The report, published in the international peer-reviewed journal Obesity Reviews, also claimed that many women are not receiving the support needed.

Possible risks from maternal obesity include pre-term birth, large-for-gestational-age babies, fetal defects, congenital anomalies, and even perinatal death.

The researchers also found that maternal obesity is a substantial contributor in the obesity of children and could lead to long-term weight problems for mothers themselves.