Researchers call for jump in obesity during pregnancy to be addressed

Posted by Andrea Hogan on 12th February 2018

The number of Australian women who are obese or overweight during pregnancy is increasing, resulting in worrying health outcomes University of Sydney researchers have reported.

Published online by the Medical Journal of Australia, a study involving researching 42, 582 first-time Australian mothers between 1990 – 2014 found obesity rates increased from 4.8 per cent to 7.3 per cent.

The occurrence of overweight women who were pregnant increased from 12.7 per cent to 16.4 per cent.

“Were overweight and obese women to have moved down one BMI category during 2010–2014, 19 per cent of preeclampsia,15.9 per cent of macrosomia, 14.2 per cent of gestational diabetes, 8.5 per cent of caesarean deliveries, 7.1 per cent of low for gestational age birthweight, 6.8 per cent of post-partum haemorrhage, 6.5 per cent of admissions to special care nursery, 5.8 per cent of prematurity, and 3.8 per cent of fetal abnormality could have been averted,” the authors wrote.

Time to improve pre-pregnancy health says experts

In light of the study’s findings, the researchers said women need to be supported in improving their pre-pregnancy weight.

“Expert national and international consensus statements support improving pre-conception health and detailed prevention strategies,” the researchers said.

“They recommend reducing obesity as a means for improving reproductive health outcomes, and potentially also reducing societal costs.

“Investing in obesity prevention strategies that target women prior to their becoming pregnant is likely to provide the greatest benefit,” the researchers concluded.


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