A new study conducted by researchers based at the Royal Victoria Hospital in Belfast shows that chances of having a big baby increased four to six times if a pregnant woman has fasting blood glucose levels ranging from 4.0 to 5.5 mmol/l, levels which would be considered normal in many circumstances.
The Hyperglycaemia and Adverse Pregnancy Outcome study (HAPO) also shows that the risk of having a baby with high insulin levels at delivery also increased by as much as ten times for mothers within this blood glucose range.
Having a large baby makes women more at risk of developing gestational diabetes in future pregnancy. Developing gestational diabetes is also a risk factor for developing Type 2 diabetes.
“This is an interesting study, as being pregnant pre-disposes women to being insulin resistant," said Matt Hunt, Head of Science Information at Diabetes UK.
"Also we are seeing more and more women of child-bearing age who are overweight, which can also lead to having high blood glucose levels during pregnancy. This in turn undoubtedly has an impact on pregnancy outcomes.”
The study was presented at the American Diabetes Association’s Annual Scientific Session held in Chicago from 22 to 27 June 2007. The research is a seven-year international study that followed around 25,000 pregnant women worldwide.