Gestational Diabetes Risk Rises with Weight Gain between Babies

November 14 is World Diabetes Day. One in seven births are impacted by gestational diabetes and now recent research shows not shedding enough weight between pregnancies can increase a woman’s risk of gestational diabetes. Karen Cooper, D.O., comments.

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CLEVELAND – Many moms know that it takes time to shed extra weight gained during pregnancy.

But a recent study indicates that not shedding enough of those pounds after a first child can impact a woman’s health risks during a second pregnancy.

Karen Cooper, D.O., of Cleveland Clinic, did not take part in the study, but said the results show how easy it is for a mom to develop gestational diabetes.

“The study shows that even just one body mass index unit up form where the mom has been at her first pregnancy to the second pregnancy, can predispose her to having gestational diabetes,” said Dr. Cooper. 

The study looked at more than 24,000 mothers and found that women who gained as little as one BMI unit in between pregnancies (which is roughly six pounds, depending on height) had an increased risk of developing gestational diabetes.

The risk was even greater if a woman had a normal BMI at her first pregnancy.

Dr. Cooper said while the study does not show why even a small amount of weight gain can impact a woman’s health risks, it does give doctors another tool for how they counsel women who are having their second baby.

She said that the benefit of this type of research is that it can help both doctors and moms be more mindful of individual risk factors.

It could also lend to earlier testing to help catch warning signs sooner in a pregnancy.

“We really need to make sure that we look at what their weight was before the first pregnancy, and what their weight is now and do a calculation to see how many BMI units have occurred since that time,” said Dr. Cooper. “And if there has been a significant change, the test that we usually do at 24-26 weeks to determine if someone’s blood glucose is normal during pregnancy, perhaps we need to do it earlier.”

Dr. Cooper said the study is a good reminder to moms that no two pregnancies are alike – and that’s why an appropriate amount of monitoring is important for each individual pregnancy.

She said it’s important for women to work in cooperation with a doctor to have the best possible pregnancy outcome.

Complete results of the study can be found in the journal PLOS Medicine.

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