UK & World News

  • 7 January 2014, 16:36

Obese Pregnant Women 'Putting Strain On NHS'

NHS chiefs have ordered the first official survey of older and fatter women giving birth following new evidence that maternity units are under increasing pressure from complex pregnancies.

Figures obtained by Sky News show there has been a boom in pregnant women who are obese or over the age of 40.

Some units reported that the number of obese mums had more than doubled in just two years.

And NHS England revealed it will for the first time monitor the data to ensure women are receiving appropriate care.

Dr Catherine Calderwood, NHS clinical director for maternity, said: "Knowing this data is one of the most important things to improve the outcomes for these women and their babies.

"So we are investing in that with a new audit for the first time."

Sky News sent a Freedom of Information request to all maternity units in England.

Of the 104 that replied, 67 were able to supply data on obesity between 2010/11 and 2012/13.

On average there was a 12.5% rise in women with a body mass index (BMI) over 30.

But Buckinghamshire Healthcare NHS Trust reported a rise of 192% and Derby Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust said obesity had risen 177%.

Our survey also shows an upward trend in the number of older mums, with an average 7.5% rise in the number of women aged over 40 over the two years.

Peterborough and Stamford Hospitals NHS Trust has been at the forefront of one of the biggest baby booms in the country.

Our statistics show that the number of obese mums rose by 59% in two years. Women aged over 40 rose by 33%.

Nicky Griffin, maternity ward manager at the hospital, said obese women need additional care.

"It is a consideration you need to make for their safety when they are in labour," she said.

"There is a risk of deep vein thrombosis, clotting in the leg.

"We have to give medication to prevent that because bigger ladies can be less mobile."

Obese women are also more at risk of diabetes, dangerously high blood pressure and having a premature delivery. Older mums face similar risks.

:: All this week Sky News will have live coverage examining the crisis in the NHS. Watch 'A Matter Of Life And Death' on Sky channel 501, Virgin Media channel 602, Freeview channel 82 and Freesat channel 202.

We also want to hear your experiences of the NHS - the good and the bad - tweet us using the hashtag #NHSlifeanddeath

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