Women who are expecting a child should be screened to ensure they are not suffering from an eating disorder that could put their wellbeing at risk, along with that of their unborn baby. This is according to a new article in The Telegraph.
This is the suggestion of several psychiatrists, who have claimed a high number of women worry about their weight during pregnancy - which could leave them at risk of developing anorexia nervosa or bulimia after their child is born.
According to a recent study, one in four expectant mothers is constantly paranoid about their changing body shape during the nine-month period.
Researchers, who asked 700 females to fill in an anonymous questionnaire at their first routine antenatal scan, found one-quarter of women were "highly concerned about their weight".
In addition, one in 14 of the respondents met the criteria for being diagnosed with an eating disorder, with some not only under-eating to avoid gaining extra pounds during the early stages, but also binging.
Commenting on the findings, Dr Abigail Easter from the Institute of Child Health at University College London said: "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.”
According to the American Pregnancy Organisation, individuals who have existing eating disorders before falling pregnant could face their illness becoming more serious during this time - as they will be worried about their changing body shape.
Individuals suffering from anorexia nervosa or bulimia could put the safety of their child at risk, while also increasing the risk of several complications during pregnancy.
These include a premature labour, or the child having a low birth weight. In addition, it is possible that a lack of the correct nutrition could lead to a higher risk of a stillbirth or early death.
Mothers who worry too much about their weight are also more likely to require a caesarean birth, while heightening the possibility of their baby having respiratory issues - as well as developing gestational diabetes themselves.
Those women who are struggling with an eating disorder are advised to seek help for their condition for the good of their reproductive health. Most ladies who suffer from this type of condition end up giving birth to a healthy child if they manage to maintain a normal weight during gestation.
By scheduling a prenatal visit to the doctor as early as possible, anorexia or bulimia sufferers can receive guidance from their medical practitioner - something that could help them conquer their own illness as well as looking after their child.