Irish hospital report finds that almost one in four pregnant women are obese

A new study has discovered that almost one in four pregnant women attending one of Ireland’s main maternity hospitals is obese.

The research was carried out at the Coombe ­Hospital in Dublin between the years 2013 and 2022, and led by public health specialist Dr Ellen Cosgrave.

Ultimately, the study found that the number of obese mothers – women with a BMI of over 30 – increased from 17% in 2013 to 23.1% in 2022.

At the Coombe, where one in eight babies are delivered across Ireland, there was a higher tendency for obesity among patients who were older and patients who had one or more previous children.

Ethnicity also became a factor in the statistics, as obesity was discovered to be more common among black women or those from the Middle East. Meanwhile, the lowest levels of obesity were found in Asian women.

In the report, the researchers stated that “obesity during pregnancy is associated with adverse maternal and neonatal outcomes, both short and long term.”

They continued: “Although there has been increased prevalence of obesity reported internationally, especially in high-income countries, prevalence of obesity during pregnancy in the Republic of Ireland has not been recently reported.”

The researchers went on to warn that “escalating levels of obesity during pregnancy are likely to result in increased maternal and infant morbidity and resultant healthcare needs, with consequences for population health”.

“In particular, rising obesity rates will likely result in an increase in the number of patients screened for, and diagnosed with, gestational diabetes mellitus,” they added.

Pregnant women with obesity issues are also at a higher risk during pregnancy, and could potentially suffer worrying complications such as miscarriage, high blood pressure, as well as pre-eclampsia, blood clots and the baby’s shoulder becoming “stuck” during labour.

Overall, the study recommends that women should not attempt to lose weight during pregnancy. Instead, talk to your doctor, midwife or obstetrician about the issue, and they will recommend the best next steps for you and your baby.