Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Study May Set New Bar for Gestational Diabetes

According to a recent article on gestational diabetes, pregnant women with high blood sugar levels may be at risk for some of the same problems faced by women with gestational diabetes -- the risk of a Caesarean delivery and a big baby who might have health problems down the road, researchers said.

They said the seven-year international study, presented at the American Diabetes Association meeting in Chicago, may spark a new look at where to draw the line for diagnosing a woman with gestational diabetes. The condition -- in which a woman who has never had diabetes loses her ability to use insulin properly during pregnancy -- affects about 4 percent of all pregnant women. In the United States, there are about 135,000 cases of gestational diabetes each year.
Treatment usually consists of diet and exercise. If left untreated, the mother can transfer extra blood sugar to the fetus, causing the fetus' pancreas to make extra insulin to handle the overload of sugar. This extra energy can produce large babies that may have trouble breathing at birth and could become obese as a child and develop diabetes in adulthood.

The study, led by Dr. Boyd Metzger of Northwestern University's Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago, involved 23,325 women at 15 centers in nine countries who were tracked during pregnancy. What Metzger and colleagues found is that the higher a woman's blood glucose got, the more likely the child was to be large, to be delivered by Caesarean section, to have low blood glucose needing treatment and to have high levels of insulin. "We found that some problems occurred even in ranges previously considered within the normal range for pregnant women," Metzger said in a statement.

He said it is likely that the level of a mother's blood glucose used to diagnose gestational diabetes will be lowered based on the study's findings. The study was funded by the National Institutes of Health and the American Diabetes Association.

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