It has frequently been discussed in the media and in medical research that obese women are not only likely to have larger babies but that they are more likely to require a caesarean (and that caesarean delivery is ‘riskier’ for obese women).
Patrick O’Brien (RCOG) said “When you are overweight in pregnancy you are at increased risk of just about every complication you can think of.”
While women have long been encouraged to eat sensibly rather than excessively when pregnant, dieting once pregnant is strongly discouraged. The difficulty is that an ever increasing number of women start their pregnancy already obese and unable to take significant dietary action. Not only this but for some women, a life time of eating habits can feel impossible to alter even when the risks to an unborn baby are explained.
The Telegraph reported on a trial starting back in 2012 which involved 400 women in Coventry, Liverpool, Sheffield and Edinburgh using a drug (Metformin) traditionally reserved for diabetic women to restrict the growth of their unborn baby. Half the group took the drug , the other half received a placebo.
The senior lecturer in obstetrics leading the trial, Dr Weeks explained some of the reason behind the investigation saying “The difficulty comes when you have been living in a particular way for years that is not healthy…To suddenly change to a different lifestyle is not easy to do.”
Will Williams, scientific advisor for All About Weight (a weight loss organisation) express concerns about the implications of treating obesity issues in this way. The concern being not only that is there no information about the long term effects on children of having been exposed to these drugs inutero but also that resorting to pills to reduce foetus weight “is unlikely to break the cycle of an unhealthy lifestyle leading to overweight children and the continuing rise of obesity and diabetes in the general population.”
I will report back when the results are released, but the earliest this will be is 3 years from now when the trial completes.