A study released by the Mount Sinai Hospital and the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences has determined that over the fifteen year period from 1996 to 2010, the rate of diabetes among pregnant women has doubled. These forms of diabetes are called either pregestational or gestational diabetes. The complete report was published in the monthly peer-reviewed medical journal called Diabetes Care. It is most likely to occur in women who have their first child at age 29 or 30 and whose subsequent pregnancies occur later in life. The increased rate now has 10% of pregnancies developing these forms of diabetes, but most expectant mothers who develop it are over age 30.
The magnitude of the jump in incidence over the 14-year period came as somewhat of a surprise, said lead researcher Dr. Denice Feig, an endocrinologist at Mount Sinai Hospital who heads the Toronto hospital’s Diabetes in Pregnancy Program.
“I have a clinic of women with gestational diabetes (GDM) and pre-gestational diabetes and we’ve certainly been noticing a marked increase in numbers in our clinics, so I expected that there would be a rise,” she said.
“But I suppose I didn’t expect there to be a full doubling in both the GDMs and pre-GDMs, so that was a surprise.”
Even though gestational diabetes condition will usually end shortly after giving birth, it runs risks for the mother and child during the gestational period. According to Mount Sinai’s Head Physician Dr. Denice Feig, the condition increases the risks for the mother and child and places a bigger burden on society. When the diabetes condition is diagnosed during the term of the pregnancy it is called gestational. If the mother already had the condition (via Type I or Type II) prior to getting pregnant, it is called pregestational diabetes.
The elevated levels of blood sugar in the body that are concomitant to diabetes can cause trauma or damage to nerves, blood vessels, and organs to both mother and the unborn child. The condition also can increase the girth of the baby forcing physicians to deliver by Cesarean section. There is also the risk of the mother suffering a condition of high blood pressure and high urine protein called pre-eclampsia. Studies have shown that women with gestational diabetes are at higher risk of subsequently developing Type II diabetes. It is believed that obesity, lack of basic nutrition, and older age pregnancies are contributing factors to this trend.
The study was published Thursday in the journal Diabetes Care.