Headaches, heartburn and infection linked to weight of mothers-to-be
EXPECTANT mothers who are obese have a higher risk of suffering from conditions such as heartburn and chest infections during pregnancy, research revealed yesterday.
The study, by Edinburgh University, found obese mothers-to-be were nearly ten times more likely to suffer from chest infections, and more than twice as likely to suffer from headaches and heartburn, compared with those of a healthy weight.
The research comes as rates of obesity in Scotland continue to rise, leading to more cases of heart disease and Type 2 diabetes. Around a quarter of adults are now thought to be obese.
The researchers studied the records of more than 650 pregnant women, of whom nearly half were overweight or obese at the beginning of their pregnancy.
They found obese pregnant women were three times more likely to have carpal tunnel syndrome, which occurs when an increase in fluid causes swelling in the wrist. It can lead to tingling, pain, numbness and lack of co-ordination in the hands.
The study also found obese women had a more than three-fold increased risk of suffering from a condition known as symphysis-pubis dysfunction, which affects the pelvic joints and can cause walking difficulties in severe cases.
The costs of treating minor complications in obese women were estimated to be more than three times that of treating women of a healthy bodyweight.
For a woman of normal weight, the cost of treating minor conditions was an average of ¬£15.45. But the cost for obese women was ¬£48.66.
The researchers concluded that the minor complications could affect women's wellbeing during pregnancy.
"Moreover, the additional NHS costs associated with treating minor complications in obese women may have a wider economical impact as a result of increased health service usage and drug costs," they said.
"Encouraging weight reduction and management strategies before, during and after pregnancy, may therefore beneficial, not only for the individual but also for the wider society."
Dr Rebecca Reynolds, from the Tommy's Centre for Maternal and Fetal Health at Edinburgh University, said: "Although symptoms such as heartburn are common and generally perceived to be benign, they can still have a major impact on the quality of life for pregnant women and can be linked to more serious conditions.
"What may be termed as minor complications can make a pregnancy much more uncomfortable and are also associated with higher treatment costs."
It is estimated that around a quarter of pregnant women giving birth are obese.
David Haslam, from the National Obesity Forum, said: "We know complications in pregnancy are made worse by obesity.
"If money could be spent in preventing obesity it could help prevent further costs later on."