Winter conceived babies increase diabetes risk in mothers: Study warns

Winter conceived babies increase diabetes risk in mothers: Study warns


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  • Date: 01 Dec,2016

According to a new research led by the University of Adelaide, women who conceive in winters are at a higher risk of developing gestational diabetes during pregnancy, increasing a range of risk factors for both child and mother, a new study has warned.

The study which investigated more than 60,000 births in South Australia over a five-year period is the first population-based study of its kind to confirm a seasonal variation in gestational diabetes.

Gestational diabetes mellitus is a serious pregnancy complication characterised by inadequate blood sugar control during pregnancy.

Gestational diabetes can lead to a number of complications that include excessive birth weight, pre-term birth, low blood sugar – which, in extreme cases, can lead to seizures in the baby – and developing type 2 diabetes later in life.

The researcher Petra Verburg from the University of Groningen, who is currently based at the University of Adelaide Robinson Research Institute said,"Our study is the first of its kind to find strong evidence of a relationship between gestational diabetes and the season in which a child is conceived."

The study found that in the five years from 2007-2011, the incidence of pregnancies affected by gestational diabetes increased, with 4.9 per cent of pregnancies affected in 2007, increasing to 7.2 per cent in 2011. The study also found that women who conceived in winter were more likely to develop gestational diabetes during their pregnancy, with 6.6 per cent of pregnancies from winter conceptions affected.

It also added that women who conceived in summer were less likely to develop gestational diabetes, with 5.4 per cent of summer conceptions affected.

"The mechanisms that cause gestational diabetes are still not fully understood," said Verburg.

"Previous studies have suggested that meteorological factors, physical activity, diet and vitamin D are risk factors for gestational diabetes, all of which are impacted by the winter season," she said.

Research leader Professor Claire Roberts, from the University Robinson Research Institute, said the results continue to show the broader impacts of the increasing body mass index (BMI) in women of reproductive age.

"Elevated BMI and low physical activity are big risk factors for gestational diabetes, as well as low socio-economic status. These factors are modifiable, and they represent targets for interventions to prevent the rising tide of gestational diabetes," Roberts said.

The study was published in the journal BMJ Diabetes Research & Care.

Story source / Credit: University of Adelaide

Journal References: Petra E Verburg, Graeme Tucker, Wendy Scheil, Jan Jaap H M Erwich, Gus A Dekker, Claire T Roberts. Seasonality of gestational d

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