MRC Centre for Reproductive Health

Clinics cut pregnancy risks for obese women

Specialist antenatal clinics for severely obese mums-to-be can help cut rates of pregnancy complications, research has found. Women who received the specialist care were eight times less likely to have a stillbirth.

Health experts say the clinic helps them to spot signs of complications sooner, so that women can be given appropriate treatment. It also helps them to pinpoint those who need to be induced early or undergo an elective caesarean to help avoid problems during labour.

The team tracked more than 1000 pregnant women classed as being severely obese during pregnancy (a body mass index of 40 or above). Around half of the women attended a specialist obesity clinic while the others received standard antenatal care.

Those that attended the specialist obesity clinic were treated by a team including obstetricians, specialist midwives, dieticians and other clinical experts. Women who developed a complication could be treated in one visit rather than having to wait to be referred to a separate specialist clinic. These women were given healthy eating and weight management advice and tested for gestational diabetes, as early diagnosis and the appropriate treatment of diabetes in pregnancy improves the chance of a safe birth.

Dr Fiona Denison, Honorary Consultant in Maternal and Fetal Health at MRC Centre for Reproductive Health, said: “Obese women are at high risk of adverse pregnancy outcomes. One study suggests that multidisciplinary care has potential to improve pregnancy outcomes for mother and baby.”

The study was carried out by researchers at Tommy’s Centre for Maternal and Fetal Health at the University of Edinburgh.

It is published in the BMJ Open.

This story generated coverage in print, online and broadcast press including: Good Morning Scotland and various other pieces of broadcast coverage, Aol, The Herald, Guernsey Press, The Australian, and Nursing Times.

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