May 26, 2011

Gestational diabetes can be predicted up to seven years before pregnancy

The risk a woman runs of developing diabetes during pregnancy can be identified as early as seven years before she gets pregnant based on measurements of blood sugar and body weight, a new study says. The study, published in the online issue of the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, looked at data from 580 ethnically diverse women who participated in a multi-phased health checkup in northern California between 1984 and 1996.

Researchers examined data from women who had a subsequent pregnancy and compared those who developed gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM) during pregnancy to those who didn't develop the condition. GDM is a glucose intolerance that typically occurs in the second or third trimester, and causes complications in as many as 7% of pregnancies in the U.S.

The risk of developing GDM increased with the number of risk factors associated with diabetes and heart disease present before pregnancy. Those risk factors are high blood sugar, hypertension and being overweight.

High blood sugar levels and body weight were associated with a 4.6-fold increased risk of developing GDM compared to women with normal blood sugar levels and body weight, the study found.

"Our study indicates that a woman's cardio-metabolic risk profile for factors routinely assessed at medical visits such as blood sugar, high blood pressure, cholesterol and body weight can help clinicians identify high-risk women to target for primary prevention or early management of GDM," said researcher Monique Hedderson.

Previous research has shown that women who develop GDM are more likely to develop Type 2 diabetes after pregnancy.

The established risk factors for developing GDM -- older maternal age, obesity, a non-white race or ethnicity, giving birth to a very large baby previously and a family history of diabetes -- are absent in up to half of women who develop the condition.

(Toronto Sun)
Photo: Baby Gear World
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