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Study: Gestational Diabetes May Persist After Birth

Jacky Gale | March 18th, 2013

Gestational Diabetes

A new study has found that expectant mothers who are diagnosed with diabetes prior to giving birth have an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes after giving birth. Previously, it was understood that the condition typically resolved itself after childbirth.

Gestational diabetes is a type of diabetes that develops during pregnancy. It occurs when the expectant mother is unable to make and use insulin properly, which leads to elevated blood sugar levels, a condition called hyperglycemia. The American Diabetes Association has estimated that about 18% of all expectant mothers are diagnosed with this condition. However, a healthy eating plan developed by a doctor, such as those offered by the Center for Medical Weight Loss, can manage the condition and prevent complications.

Study examines risk factors for type 2 diabetes

The study is expected to be published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism. It was conducted by Soo Heon Kwak, along with other researchers, from Seoul National University Hospital, South Korea. Kwak and his colleagues followed 843 women with gestational diabetes between 1996 and 2003. Within two months of giving birth, about 12.5 percent of those women developed type 2 diabetes. Many of the remaining study participants developed the disease later, at a rate of 6.8 percent annually.

The research indicates that as many as half of all women diagnosed with gestational diabetes could be at risk for type 2 diabetes. However, Kwak noted that the risk factors for type 2 diabetes include both genetic variations and lifestyle issues. Although obesity is a major risk factor, many women who developed diabetes had a genetic variation. The authors have commented that the study reveals the need for ongoing blood sugar testing amongst women who had gestational diabetes. The research also indicates that the management of blood sugar with healthy lifestyle choices should continue even after pregnancy.

Controlling the risk factors for type 2 diabetes

The results of the study appear to place greater importance on managing the risk factors for both types of diabetes. Certain risk factors are impossible to control. For example, women who are over the age of 25 and those who are not Caucasian appear to be at a greater risk of gestational diabetes, as are those who have a family history of diabetes. However, weight management plays a significant role in disease prevention. Work with a doctor to keep your body mass index (BMI) below 30 to help prevent diabetes.

In addition to maintaining a healthy weight, women can decrease their risk for developing type 2 diabetes by getting at least 30 minutes of exercise or more every day. Other diabetes prevention strategies include quitting tobacco use, if this applies to you. The Harvard School of Public Health also recommends consuming no more than three alcoholic beverages per week. Of course, while pregnant, alcohol consumption should be avoided entirely.

The doctors at the Center for Medical Weight Loss have a wealth of experience working with diabetic patients and those who are at risk for diabetes. The Center can help you maintain a healthy weight during your pregnancy to reduce your risk of developing gestational diabetes and type 2 diabetes after childbirth. Our weight loss programs are customized to each client, taking into account personal preferences, medical conditions, lifestyle habits, and nutritional requirements. Protect your health and the health of your baby by starting a healthy diet today. Enter your zip code in the box to find a Center near you.

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