Article Text

Obesity in pregnancy: a retrospective prevalence-based study on health service utilisation and costs on the NHS
  1. Kelly L Morgan1,
  2. Muhammad A Rahman1,
  3. Steven Macey2,
  4. Mark D Atkinson1,
  5. Rebecca A Hill1,
  6. Ashrafunnesa Khanom1,
  7. Shantini Paranjothy3,
  8. Muhammad Jami Husain4,
  9. Sinead T Brophy1
  1. 1College of Medicine, Swansea University, Swansea, UK
  2. 2Institute of Life Sciences, Swansea University, Swansea, UK
  3. 3School of Medicine, Cardiff University, Cardiff, UK
  4. 4Keele Management School, Keele University, Keele, UK
  1. Correspondence to Kelly Morgan; kelly.morgan{at}


Objective To estimate the direct healthcare cost of being overweight or obese throughout pregnancy to the National Health Service in Wales.

Design Retrospective prevalence-based study.

Setting Combined linked anonymised electronic datasets gathered on a cohort of women enrolled on the Growing Up in Wales: Environments for Healthy Living (EHL) study. Women were categorised into two groups: normal body mass index (BMI; n=260) and overweight/obese (BMI>25; n=224).

Participants 484 singleton pregnancies with available health service records and an antenatal BMI.

Primary outcome measure Total health service utilisation (comprising all general practitioner visits and prescribed medications, inpatient admissions and outpatient visits) and direct healthcare costs for providing these services in the year 2011–2012. Costs are calculated as cost of mother (no infant costs are included) and are related to health service usage throughout pregnancy and 2 months following delivery.

Results There was a strong association between healthcare usage cost and BMI (p<0.001). Adjusting for maternal age, parity, ethnicity and comorbidity, mean total costs were 23% higher among overweight women (rate ratios (RR) 1.23, 95% CI 1.230 to 1.233) and 37% higher among obese women (RR 1.39, 95% CI 1.38 to 1.39) compared with women with normal weight. Adjusting for smoking, consumption of alcohol, or the presence of any comorbidities did not materially affect the results. The total mean cost estimates were £3546.3 for normal weight, £4244.4 for overweight and £4717.64 for obese women.

Conclusions Increased health service usage and healthcare costs during pregnancy are associated with increasing maternal BMI; this was apparent across all health services considered within this study. Interventions costing less than £1171.34 per person could be cost-effective if they reduce healthcare usage among obese pregnant women to levels equivalent to that of normal weight women.

  • Health Economics
  • Public Health

This is an Open Access article distributed in accordance with the Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial (CC BY-NC 3.0) license, which permits others to distribute, remix, adapt, build upon this work non-commercially, and license their derivative works on different terms, provided the original work is properly cited and the use is non-commercial. See:

View Full Text

Statistics from

Supplementary materials

  • Supplementary Data

    This web only file has been produced by the BMJ Publishing Group from an electronic file supplied by the author(s) and has not been edited for content.

    Files in this Data Supplement:

Request Permissions

If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.