Healthcare professionals want women to be screened for eating disorders at antenatal check ups
A study has revealed 1 in 14 women have an eating disorder in their first trimester of pregnancy.
The survey of over 700 women, conducted by UCL, discovered that a quarter of participants were ‘highly concerned about their weight and shape’.
Not only were 2 per cent found to fast, excessively exercise, induce vomiting and misuse laxatives and diuretics during pregnancy but one in 12 would also binge and overeat twice a week.
The lead author of the study, Dr Nadia Micali at UCL Institute of Child Health, said the findings revealed enough evidence to suggest that ‘eating disorders in pregnancy can affect both the mother and the developing baby.’
The researchers are advocating for a ‘Greater awareness of eating disorders and their symptoms amongst antenatal health care professionals’ to help ‘identify and manage such disorders’.
Dr Abigail Easter, also from the UCL Institute of Child Health, added: ‘Typical pregnancy symptoms such as weight gain and vomiting can also mask the presence of an eating disorder. Many women with eating disorders may therefore go undetected and untreated during pregnancy.’
Furthermore Easter worried that women with eating disorders may be reluctant to disclose their illness in fear of stigma from healthcare professionals. As a result the researchers are calling for women to be screened for eating disorders at their first antenatal check-up to help support expectant mothers.