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Obesity key factor in maternal deaths

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Over 50% of women who die from pregnancy-related circumstances are overweight or obese and more than 15% are extremely obese, a report shows.

The Confidential Enquiry into Maternal and Child Health (CEMACH) shows that, of the two million women who gave birth in the UK between 2003 and 2005, 295 died from pregnancy-related conditions.

The report, published today, also shows that women who live in poor circumstances are up to seven times more likely to die from pregnancy-related conditions than those from other demographic.

It found the main causes of death included thromboembolism and sepsis. There has been a decline in deaths from haemorrhage and uterine trauma. Suicide, which was the largest cause of death in the previous two CEMACH reports, has decreased dramatically.

CEMACH provide ten recommendations to healthcare professionals, including better counselling for women and more sensitivity toward migrant women.

Gwyneth Lewis, CEMACH director of maternal deaths enquiry, said: ‘The fact that more than half of the women who died were obese or overweight shows that strong public health messages are needed both before and during pregnancy.’

Louise Silverton, deputy general secretary of the Royal College of Midwives, added: ‘It shows the vital role of midwives in improving pregnant women’s health and spotting the early signs of developing problems.’

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