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Rising obesity in pregnancy causes concern for gestational diabetes

A NHS watchdog revealed concerns about the rising level of obesity among pregnant women yesterday in order to raise awareness of the associated complications, which includes gestational diabetes.According to The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE), approximately 16 per cent of women in England are obese from the start of pregnancy and half of women of childbearing age or either overweight or obese.Gestational diabetes is a type of diabetes that occurs during pregnancy. This usually occurs because the body cannot produce enough insulin to meet the extra needs of pregnancy and obesity is one of the main risk factors.

Guidelines on weight management

As a result of these figures NICE has launched new public health guidance to help Healthcare Professionals assist women manage their weight before, during and after pregnancy. The recommendations include:

  • Basing meals on starchy food that is rich in fibre
  • Eating five portions of fruit and vegetable a day
  • Avoiding food high in fat and calories and watching portion sizes
  • Making physical activities, such as walking, cycling and swimming, part of everyday life
  • Not dieting during pregnancy

Serious cause for concern

“These figures are a serious cause for concern as gestational diabetes can lead to babies growing larger than usual, causing problems at delivery," said Cathy Moulton, Care Advisor at Diabetes UK. "Women who develop the condition are also 30 per cent more likely to develop Type 2 diabetes later in life.“If you are diagnosed with gestational diabetes it’s important that you follow a controlled diet with the help of a dietician. If you are overweight and thinking about having a baby, we recommend following a healthy diet and becoming more physically active in order to manage your weight and reduce your risk of developing obesity-related conditions.”Other complications associated with pregnancy and obesity includes miscarriage, pre-eclampsia and maternal death. Babies born to obese women also have an increased chance of being obese in childhood, which also puts them at greater risk of developing Type 2 diabetes.

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