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One-in-five pregnant women obese at first appointment

4 March 2016

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One-in-five women who attended their first antenatal appointment were clinically obese, (with a body mass index (BMI) over 30), new data revealed.

The report, from the Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC), used data from around 80 maternity providers, amounting to more than 36,000 women. 

Worryingly, being obese increases the risk of miscarriage from one in five (20%), to one in four (25%). If your BMI is 30 or above, you are also three times more likely to develop gestational diabetes than pregnant women whose BMI is below 30.

NHS Choices advises that women don’t try to lose weight during their pregnancy, as this may not be safe, and there is no evidence that losing weight while you’re pregnant will reduce the risks.

Interestingly, the latest data – from October 2015 – also revealed that nearly one in 10 (9%) of the women were underweight, with a BMI less than 18.5.

In terms of age, the average woman attending the appointment was 29 years old, but this rose to 31 years in the London region.

The highest proportion of pregnant women under the age of 20 was 5.1% in north England, compared to a national average of 4.1%.

At the time of their booking appointment, 12% of women with a recorded smoking status were smokers, and 78% were non-smokers.

See the full report here.