Obese women who hope to conceive may reduce their chances of pregnancy complications by seeking obesity treatment first, new research suggests.
A study in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology found that obese women who were having their first baby faced a particularly high risk of premature birth, preeclampsia, and giving birth to a low birth-weight baby.
Lead researcher Professor Lucilla Poston, from the baby charity Tommy's, commented: "The large proportion of small babies was particularly unexpected as obesity is more often associated with the birth of overweight babies.
"The high number of cases of preeclampsia found in this group was very concerning, as this is a serious pregnancy complication which, in extreme cases, can result in maternal and/or foetal death."
Professor Poston concluded that the findings suggest first-time pregnancies should be regarded as an additional problem in obese women.
The NHS' guidance on fertility notes that overweight women may find it harder to conceive than women with a healthy weight.
The guidance indicates that losing weight may increase a woman's chances of conception, while overweight men may also have abnormally low fertility.