Diabetes During Pregnancy Linked To Overgrown Babies

By six months of pregnancy, overweight women who develop gestational diabetes are five times as likely to have extremely large babies.

According to research by the University of Cambridge, excessive fetal growth can begin weeks before pregnant mothers are screened for gestational diabetes. Along with negatively impacting the mother’s health, this medical condition increases the chances that her child will develop diabetes and obesity later in life.

"Our study suggests that the babies of women subsequently diagnosed with gestational diabetes are already abnormally large by the time their mothers are tested for the disease," said Dr. Ulla Sovio, the study's first author. "Given the risk of complications for both mother and child from gestational diabetes, our findings suggest that screening women earlier on in pregnancy may help improve the short and long term outcomes for these women.”

Prevention

Researchers claim that the risks posed to babies of mothers with gestational diabetes can be curbed through a combination of exercise and diet - as well as medications, if need be. They also believe that screening pregnant women early could hold the key to avoiding complications endured by both mother and child down the road.

Researchers also discovered that even in pregnant women who didn’t have diabetes, but who were considered obese, their babies were twice as likely to be bigger than normal at 28 weeks.

"Early screening may be particularly beneficial for obese women, as fetal growth is already abnormal by 20 weeks among these women,” said Sovio. “Any intervention aimed at reducing the risk of abnormal birthweight in the infants of obese women may need to be implemented even earlier."

Source: University of Cambridge

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