The number of women starting their pregnancies with type 1 or type 2 diabetes has doubled since 1999, but rates of gestational diabetes have stayed the same, say researchers in the journal Diabetes Care.
In some age groups, the results were even worse. Researchers from Kaiser Permanente found that the number of teenagers who had diabetes before birth jumped fivefold.
"It's important to recognize with the increase in overweight and obesity, more women than ever will be entering their reproductive years with diabetes," says study author Jean Lawrence, Sc.D., MPH, at Kaiser Permanente Bellflower Medical Center.
And, she adds, "Having diabetes during pregnancy increases the risk of miscarriage early in pregnancy and the risk of stillbirth later in pregnancy. It also increases the chances of having a baby with birth defects, and it may result in larger babies and more difficult deliveries."
Past research has focused on the number of women who develop diabetes during pregnancy, which is called gestational diabetes and generally disappears after the baby is born.
The new study, which included 175,249 women who gave birth from 1999 to 2005, also included women with type 1 and type 2 diabetes.
All of the women in the study were treated at one of 11 Kaiser Permanente hospitals in southern California.
Fifty-two percent of the women were Hispanic, 26 percent were Caucasian, 11 percent were Asian/Pacific Islanders, and 10 percent were African-American.
Preexisting diabetes - type 1 or type 2 - was found in 1.3 percent of all pregnancies. In 1999, the rate of preexisting diabetes was 0.81 per 100 births. By 2005, that number had jumped to 1.82 per 100 births.
But, during that six-year period, gestational diabetes rates remained nearly unchanged. In 1999, 7.5 women per 100 births had gestational diabetes. In 2005, it was 7.4 women per 100 births.
What did change during the study period was the proportion of preexisting diabetes compared to gestational diabetes.
In 1999, of all pregnancies affected by diabetes, 10 percent were due to preexisting diabetes, while 90 percent were due to gestational diabetes. In 2005, 21 percent of women had preexisting diabetes, compared to 79 percent with gestational diabetes, according to the study.
The researchers also noted some differences in race and age. African-American, Hispanic, and Asian/Pacific women were more likely to have diabetes before giving birth.
Teens and women over 40 experienced dramatic jumps in their pre-pregnancy diabetes rates. Teen mothers saw a fivefold increase in preexisting diabetes, while mothers over 40 saw a 40 percent increase in the rate of pre-pregnancy diabetes.
Experts blame much of the increase on the rising trend of overweight and obesity.
"We saw an increase in type 2 diabetes,” says Dr. Lawrence. “That's due to the increase in overweight and obesity. Also, type 2 is being diagnosed at younger ages."
Dr. Lawrence suggests that women do whatever they can to reduce their risk of type 2 diabetes by eating a healthy diet, maintaining a proper weight, and being active. She says there is no known way to prevent type 1 diabetes.
Dr. Stuart Weiss, an endocrinologist at the New York University Langone Medical Center, says he "was surprised that the incidence of gestational diabetes wasn't up."
For women who know they have diabetes before pregnancy, Dr. Weiss advises: "Control your blood glucose levels as aggressively as possible. Control isn't easy to do, because you have to have adequate nutrition and still control your blood sugar."
But, he adds, it is crucial to try, because it may help prevent some of the serious complications associated with diabetes.
Always consult your physician for more information.
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Overweight and obesity together represent the second leading preventable cause of death in the US. Obesity is a serious, chronic disease that can inflict substantial harm to a person’s health.
Overweight and obesity are not the same; rather, they are different points on a continuum of weight ranging from being underweight to being morbidly obese.
The percentage of people who fit into these two categories, overweight and obese, is determined by Body Mass Index (BMI).
The US Surgeon General has declared that overweight and obesity have reached epidemic proportions in this country.
Over 9 million children between the ages of six and 19 are overweight. Public health officials say physical inactivity and poor diet are catching up to tobacco as a significant threat to health.
Currently, about 28 percent of women and 39 percent of men are considered seriously overweight.
BMI is a measure of weight proportionate to height. BMI is considered a useful measurement of the amount of body fat. Occasionally, some very muscular people may have a BMI in the overweight range.
However, these people are not considered overweight because muscle tissue weighs more than fat tissue. Generally, BMI can be considered an effective way to evaluate whether a person is overweight or obese.
According to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI), a BMI from 18.5 to 24.9 is considered normal while a BMI of more than 25 is considered overweight. A person is considered obese if the BMI is greater than 30 and morbidly obese if the BMI is 40 or greater.
In general, after the age of 50, a man’s weight stabilizes and even drops slightly between the ages of 60 and 74.
However, a woman’s weight continues to increase until age 60 and then begins to drop.
Another measure of obesity is the waist-to-hip ratio (WHR). The WHR is a measurement tool that looks at the proportion of fat stored on the waist, hips, and buttocks. The waist circumference indicates abdominal fat.
A waist circumference over 40 inches in men and over 35 inches in women may increase the risk for heart disease and other diseases associated with being overweight.
Consult your physician with questions regarding healthy body weight.
In many ways, obesity is a puzzling disease. How the body regulates weight and body fat is not well understood.
On one hand, the cause appears to be simple in that if a person consumes more calories than he or she expends as energy, then he or she will gain weight.
However, the risk factors that determine obesity can be a complex combination of genetics, socioeconomic factors, metabolic factors, and lifestyle choices, as well as other factors.
Some endocrine disorders, diseases, and medications may also exert a powerful influence on an individual’s weight.
Always consult your physician for more information.