A UK study has found that 1 in 14 pregnant women have eating disorders.
More than 700 women filled out a questionnaire about their eating habits for The University College London survey, which found a quarter were "highly concerned about their weight and shape".
The study – funded by the National Institute for Health Research – also found one in 12 pregnant women overeat and lose control over what they eat twice a week.
Two per cent of the women admitted to fasting, exercising excessively, inducing vomiting, and misusing laxatives or diuretics to avoid gaining weight during pregnancy.
The study’s lead author, Dr Nadia Micali, said: “There is good evidence from our research that eating disorders in pregnancy can affect both the mother and the developing baby. Greater awareness of eating disorders and their symptoms amongst antenatal health care professionals would help to better identify and manage such disorders amongst pregnant women.”
Dr Abigail Easter, also of University College London, told The Huffington Post: “Women with eating disorders are often reluctant to disclose their illness to healthcare professionals, possibly due to a fear of stigma or fear that health services might respond in a negative way. 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.”