More than half of pregnant women in the UK are obese or overweight

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() More than half of pregnant women in Britain are overweight or obese, a major report has shown. 

Data found 50.4 per cent of expectant mothers tipped the scales at their first NHS appointment between 2016 and 2017.

This is up from 47.3 per cent the previous year, according to statistics collected from 714,000 mothers-to-be.

More than 18,000 of these women were deemed morbidly obese, which is the fattest possible category. 

Being obese or overweight increases the risk of miscarriages and stillbirths, and can prevent babies from developing properly in the womb.

More than half of pregnant women in Britain are overweight or obese, a major report has shown

More than half of pregnant women in Britain are overweight or obese, a major report has shown

Research has shown youngsters born to overweight parents are much more likely to become fat themselves, leading to type 2 diabetes and heart disease. 

A BMI over 30 also triples the risk of gestational diabetes and high blood pressure for the mother. 

The NHS says a BMI of between 18.5 and 24.9 represents a healthy weight. 

The new National Maternity and Perinatal Audit accounted for 97 per cent of all births in the UK between April 2016 and March 2017. 

Professor Russell Viner, president of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH), said: 'For the first time, over half of women are being recorded as overweight or obese during pregnancy.

'Every parent wants to give their baby the best start in life, however this raises several red flags for both women's and children's health.'

DOES OBESITY INCREASE THE RISK OF MISCARRIAGES?

Our in four women with a BMI over 30 - defined as obese - miscarry before 12 weeks. This is compared to one in five who are of a healthy weight. 

Although unclear exactly why this occurs, scientists believe overweight women have higher levels of the hormone insulin in their blood, which may later the lining of the womb and affect embryo development. 

Carrying dangerous amounts of weight also raises the risk of pregnancy complications, such as high blood pressure and bleeding, which can result in an miscarriage.

He said: 'For mothers, being overweight during pregnancy comes with significant risks including gestational diabetes, pre-eclampsia, miscarriage and postpartum haemorrhage.

'Meanwhile, babies born to overweight parents are much more likely to become overweight children and are more likely to suffer from life-long conditions such as type 2 diabetes.

'Women must be supported before conception, during pregnancy and after birth to ensure the healthiest possible outcome for both themselves and their child.

'With the right support, it is possible to stop this dangerous cycle from being repeated.'  

The report also found there was a  discrepancy in the number of babies developing brain injuries in the first three days of life at certain NHS trusts.

Around one in every 1,000 babies born between 35 and 42 weeks develop

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