A new study claims that twice as many women as previously thought develop gestational diabetes during pregnancy.
The research shows that 16 per cent of women develop gestational diabetes during pregnancy compared to previous estimates that only 8 per cent develop the condition.
The findings of this international research involving 23,000 women in nine countries will be published in the March issue of Diabetes Care, a journal of the American Diabetes Association.
Cathy Moulton, Care Advisor at Diabetes UK, said: “Diabetes UK welcomes the long-awaited results of this multi-national study. The research shows that the blood glucose levels of pregnant women, which were once deemed to be in the normal range, are now seen to be those of a person with gestational diabetes. This means that two to three times more pregnant women could be diagnosed with gestational diabetes than at the present moment.
“These blood glucose levels, if left undetected, have the potential to produce large babies and lead to an increased risk of injury during delivery, which causes many women to have a caesarean section."
“Diabetes UK, who funded the Manchester and Belfast arm of this study, awaits the publication of the full study next month and the consequences it could have in the detection and treatment of gestational diabetes.”
About gestational diabetes
Gestational diabetes arises during pregnancy - usually during the second or third trimester. In some women, it occurs because the body cannot produce enough insulin to meet the extra needs of pregnancy. In others it may be found during the first trimester of pregnancy, and in these women the condition most likely existed before the pregnancy.
In the majority of cases, gestational diabetes comes to light during the second trimester of pregnancy. The baby’s major organs are fairly well developed at this stage and the risk to the baby is lower than for women with Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes.
However, babies of women who had blood glucose problems that were undiagnosed before pregnancy have a higher risk of malformations. The degree of risk depends on how long blood glucose levels have been high and on how high the levels have been.