Metabolic factors may increase women's risk of gestational diabetes

Doctors may be better able to predict a woman's risk for developing gestational diabetes before she becomes pregnant thanks to findings from a new study.

Researchers from Kaiser Permanente found that women who have cardio-metabolic risk factors, such as high blood pressure, insulin resistance and low levels of HDL cholesterol, before becoming pregnant are significantly more likely to develop the condition, which could lead to a range of birth complications.

The findings, which were published in the American Journal of Epidemiology, support government recommendations that women who may become pregnant take steps to improve their metabolic and cardiovascular health.

"Our study suggests that women may benefit from care before conception that would encourage screening for metabolic abnormalities before pregnancy," said Erica Gunderson, who led the study. "Because weight loss is not advised, and the medication and behavioral treatment options are more limited during pregnancy, the time to prevent gestational diabetes is before pregnancy begins."

Women who experience gestational diabetes are significantly more likely to develop type 2 diabetes later in life, and their children are more likely to be born with the condition, making it a significant public health issue.
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