Women who overeat during pregnancy risk a multitude of problems including premature births, diabetes and pre-eclampsia according to researchers from the University of London.

The study, funded by the U.K. National Institute for Health, involved 7,000 pregnant women and concluded that dieting can help cut the risk of premature births and pre-eclampsia by a third and reduce the danger of high blood pressure and diabetes by over 60 per cent.

Study lead Dr Shakila Thangaratinam said: "Obesity is a growing threat to women of childbearing age - half the population is either overweight or obese. Dietary intervention is effective, safe and cost-effective."

Dr Thangaratinam wants to see doctors encouraging mothers-to-be to start exercising and dieting, potentially losing 4kg during pregnancy, but other health experts have criticised the idea with the RCM's Dr Janine Stockdale saying "we need to be careful to not advise women to lose weight, this is about managing weight gain".

The NHS currently advises women eat 1,940 calories each day in the first six months of pregnancy, adding another 200 daily in the final three months.

Read the study in full in the online journal www.thelancet.com

Posted 18/05/2012 by richard.hook@pavpub.com