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Babies start growing larger before gestational diabetes diagnosed

8 April 2016

Gestational diabetes and obesity can increase the risk of a large developing baby

A new study published inDiabetes Caretoday has shown that developing babies are already growing unusually large before gestational diabetes is diagnosed at 28 weeks.

What's gestational diabetes?

Gestational diabetes is a type of diabetes that affects around 5 in every 100 women during their pregnancy, and usually goes away after giving birth. Hormones during pregnancy can cause insulin resistance, meaning that the body can’t use glucose properly and it builds up in the bloodstream.

Latest research: larger babies

Researchers at the University of Cambridge and the University of East Anglia studied over 4000 women during their pregnancy. At 20 weeks, women that were obese had developing babies that were already unusually large.

171 women went on to develop gestational diabetes, and they had developing babies that grew faster than normal between 20 and 28 weeks, meaning that changes to the developing baby happened before they were officially diagnosed at 28 weeks. 

Women that were obese as well as having gestational diabetes had five times the risk of a large developing baby.Having a developing baby that has grown unusually large can increase the risk of complications during pregnancy, and increase the risk of childhood obesity later on.

Improving outcomes

Women are tested for gestational diabetes between 24 and 28 weeks, but it usually happens at 28 weeks. The researchers suggest that if screening for gestational diabetes happened earlier than 28 weeks, it might lead to improved outcomes for both the mother and their baby. 

Importantly, women can reduce their risk of gestational diabetes by managing their weight, eating healthily and keeping active. 

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