Gestational Diabetes: Odds Now as High as 1 in 10

As many as one in every 10 pregnant women in the U.S. may develop gestational diabetes, according to a new study from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The increased incidence of gestational diabetes parallels the rise in the incidence of type 2 diabetes—and both conditions follow the steady rise in obesity in the U.S. population.

Gestational diabetes occurs when pregnant women who have never had diabetes develop the high blood glucose levels characteristic of the disease.The news release cites a possible contributing factor: hormones from the placenta may block the action of the mother’s insulin, and she may need up to three times as much insulin to control her blood glucose levels.

Babies and Mothers Face Increased Risks

Babies born to women who have gestational diabetes are more likely to be abnormally large, and may require delivery by cesarean section. The babies are also more likely to develop prediabetes later in life.

Mothers with gestational diabetes face an increased risk of complications during pregnancy and delivery, and have more than a seven-fold increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes five to 10 years after giving birth, according to the CDC news release.

Data in the study were based on information on questionnaires filled out by the mothers, and by information on birth certificates. The authors note that almost half the cases of gestational diabetes “could potentially be prevented if we reduced the risk of overweight and obesity to that of normal-weight women.”

The report was published June 19 2014 in Preventing Chronic Disease, a peer-reviewed journal: