A strong new report in the journal Diabetes Care illustrates why it's so important to control gestational diabetes. Uncontrolled blood sugar appears to greatly increase risk that a child will become overweight or even obese.
Bottom line first
Children of mothers who did not control their blood sugar during pregnancy were nearly twice as likely to be overweight or obese by ages 5 to 7 than kids of those moms with normal glucose. The higher the blood sugar, the higher the risks. But the children of diabetic mothers who controlled their blood sugar during pregnancy with diet, exercise and (if necessary) insulin were no more likely to be too heavy than kids of mothers with normal blood sugar.
This study in 50 words or less
Researchers studied weights of children aged 5 to 7 and compared them to their mothers' blood glucose levels during pregnancy. Children of mothers diagnosed with gestational diabetes were almost twice as likely to be overweight or obese than those of moms of normal glucose levels.
Yes, but. . .
The study shows only a link between gestational diabetes and a child's weight at 5 to 7, not a cause and effect.
This multi-ethnic, multi-center study showed consistent results among all ethic groups.
So what are you going to do about it?
It's already standard ob/gyn practice to treat and control gestational diabetes, both in women who are diabetic before pregnancy and those who develop it while pregnant.
This big, well-designed study simply clarifies the link between uncontrolled diabetes while pregnant and the child's weight at ages 5 to 7. Overweight and obesity at elementary school age may significantly increase risk of lifelong health problems.
If pregnant, work with your ob/gyn to aggressively monitor blood sugar levels and, if necessary, respond with appropriate measures to keep them in the normal range.
If you're considering getting pregnant, work now with a medical professional to check your blood sugar levels and if necessary control them with diet and exercise as a first step. A healthy diet and regular brisk walking have been proven very effective at controlling blood sugar in people at risk for diabetes but who have not yet developed the disease (a condition known as "pre-diabetic").
Our site has an excellent explainer on gestational diabetes by Dr. Frank Varon.
Two more recent, preliminary reports update Dr. Varon's entry.
One suggests a possible link between gestational diabetes and the mother's elevated risk of pancreatic cancer.
Another suggests there may be good reasons to lower the threshhold for gestational diabetes.
Published On: August 31, 2007