More than 100,000 pregnant women in the U.S. develop gestational diabetes each year, and for the past four decades doctors have been debating whether these women should be treated. If you’re one of them, a new study suggests a conversation with your OB-GYN is in order.
Reporting in the Oct. 1 New England Journal of Medicine, researchers out of Ohio State University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill found that treating gestational diabetes halved the number of babies born unusually big and heavy, and reduced shoulder damage to babies during birth as well as the C-section rate. The moms who were treated also gained less weight during pregnancy and had fewer cases of preeclampsia than those whose diabetes went untreated.
Women with gestational diabetes have high blood sugar levels, and send their babies more blood glucose than they need. That means the babies are born larger and fatter, increasing their risk for birthing problems, and for becoming obese and developing type 2 diabetes later in life.
Risk factors for gestational diabetes include:
- Being Hispanic, African American, Native American or Pacific Islander
- Being overweight
- Being related to someone who has diabetes
- Being older than 25
- Having gestational diabetes with a past pregnancy
- Having a previous pregnancy end in stillbirth, or having an abnormally large baby
- Having a history of abnormal glucose tolerance