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Warning signs of pregnancy-related diabetes
May 27th, 2011
12:01 AM ET

Warning signs of pregnancy-related diabetes

Diabetes stemming from pregnancy can cause a host of problems for baby and mother alike, including birth complications and a higher risk of developing the more serious type 2 diabetes later in life.

In a new study, researchers say they've identified a series of routine health measures that can help doctors predict years in advance which women will develop pregnancy-related diabetes, paving the way for lifestyle changes and other early prevention efforts.

Obesity, elevated blood sugar, and high blood pressure were all linked to a higher risk of developing pregnancy-related diabetes, also known as gestational diabetes. The odds were nearly three times higher among overweight and obese women as among those of normal weight, the study found, and the odds were roughly 2.5 times higher among those with slightly elevated blood sugar.

Health.com: Signs and symptoms of type 2 diabetes

These findings weren't especially surprising, since high blood sugar and being overweight - along with a family history of the disease - are well-known risk factors for both gestational and type 2 diabetes. What was surprising is that these factors predicted gestational diabetes even though they were measured an average of seven years before the women became pregnant.

In fact, this was the first study to assess the relationship between gestational diabetes and blood-sugar levels before (rather than during) pregnancy. "Not a lot is known about how factors before pregnancy influence a woman's risk of what happens during pregnancy," says the lead author of the study, Monique Hedderson, Ph.D., a research scientist with the Kaiser Permanente health-care organization, in Oakland, Calif.

Health.com: Have diabetes? Tips for a healthy pregnancy

The study "highlights the... need to develop effective weight-management programs for women of reproductive age to help them achieve a healthy weight before pregnancy," Hedderson adds. "These programs are important both before, during, and after pregnancy, as most women have more than one pregnancy and postpartum for one pregnancy is preconception for another."

Indeed, in another study published earlier this week, Hedderson and her coauthors found that women who gain weight after a first pregnancy dramatically raise their risk of gestational diabetes in a subsequent pregnancy.

Health.com: Post-baby weight gain raises diabetes risk in next pregnancy

The new study, which appears in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, included 580 members of the Kaiser Permanente health plan. Using measurements taken as part of routine checkups, the researchers compared the risk factors of women who went on to develop gestational diabetes with demographically similar women who did not.

Roughly 4% of expecting mothers are diagnosed with gestational diabetes, according to the American Diabetes Association. The condition increases the risk of delivering a large baby and undergoing a Cesarean section, and is also associated with a higher risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes. Their offspring, meanwhile, are more likely to become obese as children and develop type 2 diabetes.

Copyright Health Magazine 2011

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Filed under: Diabetes • Health.com

soundoff (11 Responses)
  1. amylynn

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    May 28, 2011 at 08:27 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Lasciel

      Go away scam troll.

      May 31, 2011 at 15:08 | Report abuse |
    • mouselol

      You want to avoid being obese, it's incredibly simple. Avoid anything prepackaged. Avoid fast food like the plague. Do not drink soda as it's just sugar, sugar and more sugar. Eat as natural as physically possible. Make all your own foods at home. Eat a healthy diet of fresh fruit, veggies, low fat dairy, whole grains, leat meats, water or low fat milk, and get your butt off the couch and get some exercise several times per week instead of crashing in front of the tv after work.

      June 13, 2011 at 08:56 | Report abuse |
  2. happy momma

    With my first child I developed gestational diabetes. I was put on a strict diet for my last trimester. Even though I have family history my ob did not test me sooner. No wonder I kept gaining pounds. Once I followed the diet my sugar levels were normal and the weight kept off. A year later with my second child my ob started testing me with the 3hr glucose test when I was two months pregnant. Luckily with my son I did not develop gestational diabetes.

    May 28, 2011 at 10:49 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. Jess2010Jess

    I'm was a tiny-boned, skinny little thing – started out pre-pregnancy at 105 pounds, 5 foot 6 – and have gained at exactly the rate my doctor told me to – about 28 pounds to date in my 8th month. My diet is primarily veggies and fruit, fish, whole grains, and I walk and do yoga. No diabetes or any obesety in my family. Bam, I get gestational diabetes – last thing on my list of things I ever thought I'd get. It's not a big deal, and totally under control – baby's healthy, I'm all good – I'm just saying....sometimes our bodies just surprise us. Pregnancy is a lot of work on our systems – all we can do is just try to take care of ourselves the best we can.

    May 28, 2011 at 11:26 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. gr8sailing

    Diabetes and gum health are related and I wanted preventative care to have the healthiest baby I could. During pregnancy I needed additional cleanings and so I went to http://www.porthuronfamilydentists.com and scheduled 2 appointments.

    May 29, 2011 at 09:01 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. troybriansmom

    Im 8 months pregnant now and have ebeen diagnosed with gestational diabetes. I take 10 units of insulin in morning and 15 at night and honestly its really not the "death sentence" everyone seems to think and some who have diabetes act like it is. My lil bro has been giving himself insulin injections since he was 8, he never once complained and never has had any complications from it. Hes 21 now and a diabetic educator. So when I developed it I was not going to make a big deal out of it like some people do. As long as you do what the doctors say you and your baby will be fine.

    May 30, 2011 at 03:10 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Nayeli

      Myself and my husband dedceid that we will be trying for a baby later on in the year, and so we dedceid to get this book. I can't put it down, and have since re-visited it with pens and highlighters to remember all of the information! It is well written, extremely informative, and REALLY shows you just how important it is to get things right AT LEAST 3 months before you plan to concieve. Topics covered include diet, (a key part of the book,) stress, your immune system, a healthy home environment (I hadn't even thought about the impact of using household cleaning products!) relationships, and even a useful section for the Dad to be! There is even an extremely comprehensive are you ready?' section which gives you a rating indicator of how ready you, your partner, your home and your body are for a baby I was sure that I would get ready,' but because this book brought things up I hadn't previously thought about, it turns out I have some work to do! (Of course, don't stick to it religiously go with your own instincts.) It is American, so there are a few references to health insurance and food in cup measurements etc, however the majority of this book is relevant for U.K readers, too. It has totally transformed my lifestyle and really focused my attention on getting my body (and my husband to get his body,) ready to have as healthy a conception, pregnancy and little person as possible! Actually even for people NOT planning on having children, it would be useful to reduce the amount of rubbish that goes into our bodies, most of the time without us even realising it! Get this book now!!!

      October 12, 2012 at 01:18 | Report abuse |
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    January 22, 2012 at 01:02 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. Grivin

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    November 16, 2012 at 16:07 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. Grivin

    Thanks for letting us so much information about diabetes. Really beautiful & helpful tips for diabetic pregnant women, thank you so much for sharing these wonderful pregnancy tips.

    November 16, 2012 at 17:52 | Report abuse | Reply

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Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.