Weight gain before pregnancy can increase gestational diabetes risk
Women who gain weight before they get pregnant increase their risk of developing gestational diabetes, according to new research.
A study in Australia followed more than 3,000 women aged between 18 and 23 using the Women’s Health Australia study from 1996. The were asked to answer questions relating to their weight, physical activity, lifestyle, health issues, and pregnancies so the data could be collected.
The research team found the females who gained more than 2.5 per cent of their body weight each year prior to pregnancy had a nearly three times increased risk of gestational diabetes compared to women who maintained their weight.
Akilew Adane, a researcher at the University of Queensland’s School of Public Health, said: “Women with only a small weight gain each year ([1.5 to 2.5 percent of body weight) doubled their risk of gestational diabetes.
“Surprisingly, even women who were underweight or in the normal BMI range had an increased risk of gestational diabetes when they gained weight, even if they remained within the healthy weight category. Women with small weight gains within the healthy BMI range doubled their risk of gestational diabetes compared to women whose weight remained stable.”
Researchers stressed the importance of women and their doctors are aware of the risk of gestational diabetes even if in a healthy BMI range.
Mr Adane added: “It’s important for women and their clinicians to be aware that, even in the healthy BMI range, gaining a kilogram or two a year can be a health risk.
“For instance, a 60-kilogram, 166-centimetre woman is in a healthy BMI range, but if she gains 1.14kg each year for seven years (about two per cent of her body weight) her risk of gestational diabetes would double compared to a woman whose weight remained stable.
“It’s likely that women who continue to gain weight through early adulthood may experience a modest, progressive insulin resistance, which is further exacerbated by pregnancy, even though their weight is still within the normal range.”
The findings of the study have been published in the Diabetes Research and Clinical Practice.