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Minister for Public Health and Sport visits Tommy’s Metabolic Antenatal Clinic

Aileen Campbell, Minister for Public Health and Sport, visited Tommy’s Metabolic Antenatal Clinic on 14 December to learn more about how the clinic benefits women and their babies.

This article was first published on 15 December, 2017

In Edinburgh, the Tommy’s Centre Metabolic Antenatal Clinic was set up with the support of NHS Lothian specifically to help severely overweight women deliver healthy babies. The Tommy’s Centre sits within the MRC Centre for Reproductive Health at the University of Edinburgh.

More than half of all expectant mothers in Scotland are overweight or obese at the start of their pregnancy. These mothers and unborn babies face a greater chance of complications.

Pregnant women who are obese are more likely to have a miscarriage or a stillbirth. They have a higher chance of developing high blood pressure and diabetes and their babies are more likely to spend time in a neonatal unit.

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

Clayre McVey, age 30, attended the clinic regularly throughout her pregnancy. She now has a healthy 11 month old baby boy called Lachlan.

She had a miscarriage at seven weeks with her first pregnancy so embarked upon her second pregnancy feeling somewhat concerned.  Clayre has a BMI of over 50 and was also diagnosed with gestational diabetes and pre-eclampsia. She was monitored closely by Dr Denison and the staff who work at the clinic.

Clayre believes that the additional care offered by the clinic made her feel much more secure and confident throughout her pregnancy. She attended the clinic every fortnight and said the additional scans and health checks calmed her nerves and made her feel supported.

She was told to contact the staff at the clinic by phone if she had any questions or concerns, and always felt that she was given high-quality care throughout her pregnancy.  Her son, Lachlan, was safely delivered by c-section in January, 2017.

Clayre said: “The team that runs the Tommy’s Metabolic Antenatal Clinic are all absolutely amazing. From Dr Fiona Denison all the way to the ladies at the reception desk, everyone involved was kind and helpful. They go above and beyond to ensure that both mum and baby stay healthy.

“Pregnancy is often a worrying time, and I felt my stress levels were reduced thanks to the care of the doctors and midwives at the clinic.

“I attended the clinic for a number of months and the care and advice was consistently of a high standard. I would highly recommend it to other overweight pregnant women who are keen to get extra support during their pregnancy.”             

Dr Fiona Denison, a Consultant Obstetrician and Reader in Maternal and Fetal Health at MRC Centre for Reproductive Health, founded the clinic and treats patients. She researches the obesity in pregnancy topic at MRC Centre for Reproductive Health and has found that women who received the specialist care at the Tommy’s Metabolic Clinic were eight times less likely to have a stillbirth.

Dr Denison added: “Women do not generally want to be overweight. We all know we would prefer to eat more healthily and exercise more, but it can be difficult to incorporate changes into your lifestyle.

“Often the first time women are confronted with their weight being an issue is when they are pregnant because they are not otherwise unwell.”


Ministers Visit to CRH