THE number of obese pregnant women in Scotland doubled in just a decade, according to a new study.

Obesity in expectant mothers has shot up from 22 per cent in 2009 to 44 per cent in 2018, the Ayrshire Maternity Unit (AMU) research found.

And expectant mothers now tend to be “older, heavier, and have more complex medical histories” and as the size of mothers have increased so have the size of newborns.

The maternity unit serves a general population of 400,000 people and approximately 3,000 births per year.

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There has also been an increase in the number of caesarean section births alongside rising BMIs - women are twice as likely to have a caesarean if they are morbidly obese.

In 2018, approximately one in four pregnant women with a normal BMI - 18.5 to 25 - had a caesarean section compared with more than one in two pregnant women with morbid obesity, a BMI above 40.

Obesity, which is classified as having a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or above, can cause significant health problems for both mother and baby. .

The data was presented at this year’s European Congress on Obesity (ECO) in Glasgow.

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Dr Laura Jane Erunlu, from the University Crosshouse Hospital, Kilmarnock, in Scotland, said: “Pregnant women now tend to be older, heavier, and have more complex medical histories when they become pregnant.

“These complications pose specific challenges to our maternity services.

“Both increasing BMI and the rising incidence of caesarean section in pregnant women with obesity mandate a greater need for obstetric theatre services and accompanying medical and nursing staff.

“Even prior to conception women need to be thinking about maintaining a healthy weight, exercising, and eating healthily.”

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