GIVEN that 50 per cent of women of childbearing age in the UK are currently overweight or obese, the impact of obesity in pregnancy continues to be a major issue.
Talking about weight is a taboo subject but one cannot ignore the fact that being overweight or obese is associated with an increased risk of diabetes, cancer, heart disease and massive complications during pregnancy – these can include increased chances of miscarriage, stillbirth, pre-eclampsia, gestational diabetes, neonatal obesity and preterm birth.
Emerging evidence also suggests that maternal obesity has long-term consequences for the baby, including childhood obesity and increased risk of developing heart disease and diabetes.
Studies have shown that part of the reason behind this is the poor diet of the mother while pregnant, which in turn makes the baby more likely to crave a similar diet themselves.
The baby as such is “programmed” in the womb by an adverse fetal environment during pregnancy.
Treating women to ensure the risks of their being overweight are not passed to their child is one important way we can help the next generation fight the rising tide of obesity in the UK. Medical research – such as this trial – is required to help inform us as to whether this is achievable. This, together with encouraging women to lose weight before they are pregnant and between pregnancies, are strategies that should be deployed in tandem.
If we are to protect the health of the next generation of children, then we need to make sure we are doing everything we can to give them every chance of a healthy future, right from the very beginning.
• Jane Brewin is chief executive of pregnancy research charity Tommy’s