Maternal obesity is being blamed for the high number of deaths among newborn babies in Britain.
Research by Tommy's, a charity which sponsors research into miscarriage and premature birth, has revealed that Britain has the highest number of deaths among newborns in western Europe.
Britain experiences 5.1 deaths per thousand babies, compared to just 3.1 per thousand in Sweden, the Times reports, and around 1,300 babies die every year as a result of premature birth.
The problem is expected to worsen further as numbers of obese women increase, said Professor Lucilla Poston, head of maternal and foetal research at St Thomas' Hospital in London.
"British women are the fattest in Europe," the professor told the Times.
"People think overweight women give birth to big babies, but actually they are far more prone to pre-eclampsia, which means premature, underweight babies," she revealed.
"Obesity, added to the growing number of IVF multiple births, means that the problem of premature birth is likely to get worse."
Obese women often have difficulty conceiving as many stop ovulating because they are so overweight.
Janet Edmond, director of the British Obesity Surgery Patient Association (Bospa), recently told the BBC that women are increasingly opting for obesity surgery in an attempt to increase their chances of becoming pregnant.
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