Diabetes and pregnancy: Not a good mix, but weight control helps

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Flu vaccination isn't the only pregnancy advice being reported on — a recent study finds that women who lost the excess weight they gained during pregnancy were less likely to develop gestational diabetes (borderline or actual diabetes that appears only during pregnancy) in a subsequent pregnancy. Lead author Samantha Ehrlich, research project manager at Kaiser Permanente's Division of Research, and colleagues analyzed medical records covering a ten-year period for approximately 22,000 women who had their first and second babies delivered at Kaiser Permanente's Northern California facilities. They calculated that about one in 20 women developed diabetes during either of their first two pregnancies, and about one in 50 got it during both. Notably, among all of the women, the risk of developing gestational diabetes during their second pregnancy was directly correlated to the amount of excess weight they gained after having their first child. For instance, if a 5'4”woman who is initially of normal weight (no more than 145 pounds) gains six to 12 pounds between pregnancies, she is nearly twice as likely to develop gestational diabetes during her second pregnancy, compared to the same woman who returns to her pre-pregnancy weight before the second pregnancy. Women who were overweight or obese before their pregnancy faced a similar increased risk for gestational diabetes.

ACSH's Dr. Gilbert Ross advises that women maintain a healthy weight before and after pregnancy to reduce their risk of developing gestational diabetes. “The toll of both obesity and diabetes is getting worse, and this study shows that it affects pregnancy, too. While it can be very difficult to lose the weight gained after pregnancy, these women should make every effort to return to a healthy weight.”