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Gestational diabetes More Significant After Regulations Change


New measurements to determine a pregnant mother's blood sugar level means two to three times more women are now at risk for gestational diabetes. Dr. Boyd Metzger, Spies Professor of Metabolism and Nutrition at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine and a physician at Northwestern Memorial Hospital, stated that the percentage will rise from 5 to 8 percent to 16 percent of women now qualifing for gestational diabetes. Blood glucose levels that were once deemed safe, now appear to be causing harm to babies.

A blood sugar level that was once safe before researchers investigated, was still causing overweight babies to have high insulin levels, early deliveries and cesarean sections. The worst case scenario caused by the increased insulin levels was the life-threatening condition, preeclampsia, which is when a mother's high blood pressure causes damage to her unborn baby. Overweight babies are also at a higher risk for delivery injuries to mother and child.

Despite the changes revealing that more women are at risk, the study also concluded that women with mild gestational diabetes who underwent lifestyle changes and diet modifications to help their blood sugar levels reduced their risk significantly. These women had less overweight babies, less cesarean deliveries and less chances of preeclampsia.

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Dr. Metzger and 50 other experts concluded a fasting blood sugar level of 92 or higher. The levels of 180 or higher on a 1-hour glucose tolerance test or 153 or higher on a 2-hour glucose tolerance test used to be appropriate but are now shown to cause the problems mentioned above.

"At these levels, the frequency of having an overweight baby is almost double, the frequency of having preeclampsia is almost double, and the frequency of early delivery is 40 percent greater," Metzger stated. "These are really substantial differences."

In related news, Endocrine Today, recently reported on pregnancy weight gain leading to gestational diabetes risk factors. Weight is also the reason the entire world will most likely see diabetes percentages double by 2025, specifically obese and extreme weight gain cases.

“Women with gestational diabetes were more likely to be aged 35 years and older, nonwhite, overweight or obese before pregnancy, and have a family history of diabetes, hypertension at first prenatal visit and two or more prior live births.”

Source: March of issue of Diabetes Care