Womens Health

Pre-gestational Diabetes on the Rise

More than Doubled

According to a Kaiser Permanente study published in the May issue of Diabetes Care, the number of women who contract diabetes prior to pregnancy has more than doubled in the past six years. Past studies have looked at gestational diabetes which develops during pregnancy, and then often disappears with the birth of the baby. This new study is the largest of its kind to look at pre-pregnancy diabetes types one and two.

Well Represented

The scientists at Kaiser Permanente's Department of Research & Evaluation looked at data relating to 175,249 women who gave birth between the years 1999-2005 in 11 Kaiser Permanente hospitals in Southern California. The researchers saw that there was twice the number of births to women with diabetes in 2005 than there had been in 1999. The rise in pre-gestational diabetes was well represented by all the ages, races, and ethnic groups. Here's the breakdown:

*13-19 year olds had five times the increase of pre-pregnancy diabetes.

*20-39 year old women had double the rate of pre-pregnancy diabetes.

*Women 40 years old and older had a 40% increase in the rate of pre-pregnancy diabetes.

*Women of color were more likely to have pre-pregnancy diabetes than were white women.

Lead author of the study Jean M. Lawrence, ScD, MPH, MSSA, a research scientist at Kaiser Permanente's Department of Research & Evaluation commented that, "More young women are entering their reproductive years with diabetes, in part due to the fact that our society has become more overweight and obese. While we currently don't know how to prevent type 1 diabetes, the steps to reducing risk of type 2 diabetes must start before childbearing years: healthy eating, active living and maintaining a healthy weight."

Lawrence believes that the word needs to be spread that such habits need to begin in childhood and continue throughout one's life. Recent studies show that 2/3 of Americans are overweight and almost 15 million of them are children. It also bears note that pre-pregnancy diabetes poses a much greater risk to the baby than gestational diabetes which occurs in 8% of all pregnancies.

In gestational diabetes, insulin resistance is triggered in the second trimester and is associated with a rise in the mother's blood glucose levels. This type of diabetes can lead to larger babies with a greater risk of childhood obesity and also comes with the risk that the mother may develop type 2 diabetes.

Those women who have diabetes and then become pregnant have a higher rate for miscarriages, stillbirths, and birth defects. This is due to the too high glucose levels in maternal blood during the first crucial trimester of pregnancy when the fetus' vital organs are developing.

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