Around 80 maternity units submitted data in October 2015 relating to around 36,000 pregnant women who attended their first antenatal appointment during September 2015 and October 2015. 
The statistics showed results across the country’s regions, with the South of England seeing the highest rate of pregnant women considered obese (23%) and the London Commissioning Region saw the lowest rate of obesity in pregnancy (14%).
Additional research suggests obesity during pregnancy increases the risk of complications, including gestational diabetes, miscarriage and pre-eclampsia.
Responding to the research, Director of Midwifery at the Royal College of Midwives, Louise Silverton said: “These latest figures are concerning and really show just how significant a problem obesity in pregnancy has become. Failing to tackle the causes of obesity has serious consequences for women, families and the population as a whole.
“Women should try to be an ideal weight before they become pregnant and, if not, should follow midwifery advice to manage their weight whilst eating a good rich diet in micronutrients.”
Statistics show 14% of pregnant women in the London Commissioning Region were underweight.
The research also analysed pregnant women’s smoking status at the time of their first antenatal appointment.
The North of England saw the highest proportion of pregnant women who said they were smokers (18%), with the average of 8.4 cigarettes smoked per day.
The London Commissioning Region saw the lowest number of pregnant women classified as smokers (10%).
“In terms of smoking there is no doubt that it is very important to encourage women to stop smoking in pregnancy. We also know it increases the risks of adverse outcomes for the baby and knowing this is sufficient for many women to stop. However, some women do require extra support and as we have also said before, there is also a need for much more education about the effects of smoking directed at children and young women,” Louise Silverton added.
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