Maternal obesity in Europe: where do we stand and how to move forward?: A scientific paper commissioned by the European Board and College of Obstetrics and Gynaecology (EBCOG)

Type Article

Journal Article


R. Devlieger; K. Benhalima; P. Damm; A. Van Assche; C. Mathieu; T. Mahmood; F. Dunne; A. Bogaerts

Year of publication



Eur J Obstet Gynecol Reprod Biol







Paralleling the global epidemic of obesity figures in the general population, the incidence of maternal obesity (BMI>30kg/m(2) at the start of pregnancy) has been rising over the last world. While most European countries do not systematically report obesity figures in their pregnant population, the prevalence of maternal obesity varies from 7 to 25% and seems strongly related to social and educational inequalities. Obesity during pregnancy represents an important preventable risk factor for adverse pregnancy outcomes and is associated with negative long-term health outcomes for both mothers and offspring. These effects are often aggravated by the high incidence of abnormal glucose tolerance and excessive gestational weight gain found in this group. The main controversies around the management of the obese pregnant women are related to (1) the value of repeated weighing during pregnancy, (2) the optimal gestational weight gain to advise and the lifestyle messages to deliver in order to achieve this, (3) the optimal strategy and timing of screening for gestational diabetes (GDM) and (4) the optimal timing and mode of delivery. These controversies are reviewed in this review, with the exception of screening for gestational diabetes that is discussed extensively elsewhere in this issue (Benhalima et al.). An agenda for research is proposed with the hope that it will catch the attention of policy-makers and funders and ultimately lead to the development of European-wide evidence-based guidelines for clinicians.