A link between obesity in mothers and deaths in newborn babies has been brought into focus by worryingly high mortality rates.
A report published by the Centre for Maternal and Child Enquiries claims levels of baby deaths for obese women are alarming and are twice what would be expected.
The Perinatal Mortality 2009 report found 10% of mothers who had a stillbirth or whose babies died in the neonatal period had a BMI (Body Mass Index) of 35 or more, indicating obesity.
This is double the UK rate (5%) of all deliveries to women with a BMI of 35 or more at any point in pregnancy.
Since 2000, stillbirth and neonatal mortality rates in the UK have shown a downward trend, but, as well as the obesity link, the report found links between stillbirths and neonatal deaths and age.
Mothers who had stillbirths and neonatal deaths were more likely to be younger (less than 25) and older (40 plus).
The youngest (under 20 years old) mothers were 1.4 times more likely to have a stillbirth and 1.2 times more likely to have a neonatal death than mothers of 25-29.
The older (40 plus) were 1.7 and 1.3 times more likely to have a stillbirth or neonatal death respectively compared to mothers of 25-29.
Dr Tony Falconer, president of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, said: “It is vitally important for women to be encouraged to lead healthy lifestyles throughout their lives and they can get good information from their GPs on diet, nutrition and exercise.”
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