Diet and Exercise Can't Always Prevent Gestational Diabetes

For women who are already severely overweight, diet and exercise interventions won't necessarily prevent gestational diabetes, a new study has found.

The findings suggest that better screening and treatment of women who are trying to get pregnant or are in the early stages of pregnancy is needed to help prevent blood sugar complications that can impact the unborn child for years to come.

Over 1,500 women were recruited for the UPBEAT study, which provided half of the pregnant women with standard care and advice about health and the other half eight weekly sessions with a health trainer. The latter group received a handbook with recipes, recommended foods and exercise tips, as well as a pedometer and a log book to record their exercise progress. The intervention group was also given instructions on how to make specific changes to adopt a low-glycemic diet.

"Overall, 332 (26%) of all participants were diagnosed with gestational diabetes, but the study found no significant difference between the standard and intervention groups," a press release on the study stated.

More stringent diagnostic tests

While the intervention group didn't have lower rates of gestational diabetes, they did have a reduction in pregnancy weight gain, lower body fat, and higher levels of activity - which are healthy results in general, the authors stressed.

If diet and exercise measures can't prevent gestational diabetes, however, more stringent diagnostic tests could help pick up more cases, said lead author Professor Lucilla Poston.

Other research has suggested that a healthy weight before and during pregnancy may reduce gestational diabetes risk in general.

"We are now following the mothers and children from this cohort to see whether changes in the mothers' diet and activity are sustained and have an effect on their health and that of their offspring," said Poston.

Source: EurekAlert!
Image courtesy of Jomphong/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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