Obesity and delayed motherhood fuel rising numbers of mothers who die in labour
21:59 GMT, 29 April 2012
23:27 GMT, 29 April 2012
A study in the Lancet medical journal says there are concerns maternity units can't cope with potentially dangerous labours (posed by model)
Rising numbers of women are dying in labour as obesity and delayed motherhood make births more risky.
There are concerns maternity units can’t cope with the increasing number of complicated and potentially dangerous labours.
A study of women giving birth in London, published in the Lancet medical journal, found the death rate has doubled since 2005.
In 2010/11 there were just under 20 deaths for every 100,000 births compared with just under ten deaths six years previously.
There are currently no comparable
figures for the remainder of the UK as the Centre for Maternal and
Child Enquiries, which would normally investigate such cases, has had
its work suspended to save money.
The researchers blamed the increase on
rising rates of obesity and the trend for delaying motherhood which
makes births increasingly complicated.
Additionally the higher numbers of
women undergoing IVF means they are more likely to have twins and
triplets, which are riskier.
These trends may be more pronounced in London but it is likely similar problems are being experienced across the country.
Dr Susan Bewley, consultant obstetrician from Guy’s and St Thomas’ hospital in London called for ‘urgent attention’.
‘We do know women are becoming pregnant when they are older and fatter and have more complex health issues,’ she said.
‘It could be that hospitals in London are
actually coping surprisingly well against greater odds, or it could
mean there are problems with the services.’
Professor Cathy Warwick (pictured) of the Royal College of Midwives. She said maternity services are dealing with far more women with complex pregnancies
Professor Cathy Warwick, general secretary of the Royal College of Midwives, said: ‘Two factors are combining: maternity services are under pressure from a steadily rising birth rate while dealing with far more women with complex pregnancies.’
Since 2001 the UK birth rate has jumped by 21 per cent, up from 594,634 to 723,165 last year alone.
By contrast, the number of midwives has only increased by 15 per cent over the same period, from 18,048 to 20,790.
The college estimates an extra 5,000 midwives are needed.