One in 14 women has an eating disorder in the first three months of their pregnancy, according to new research.
A survey of more than 700 pregnant women by University College London (UCL) found a quarter were “highly concerned about their weight and shape”.
Two per cent of those quizzed were found to fast, exercise excessively, induce vomiting, and misuse laxatives or diuretics to avoid gaining weight during pregnancy.
The study also found one in 12 pregnant women said they would overeat and lose control over what they ate twice a week.
The researchers have called for women to be screened for eating disorders at their first antenatal check-up due to the adverse affects on the health of the mother and the baby.
Dr Abigail Easter, from the UCL Institute of Child Health, 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.”