Weight gain in pregnancy 'a risk factor for diabetes'

Gaining weight during pregnancy, particularly in the first trimester, may increase the risk of developing gestational diabetes, US research shows.

Glucose testing: gestational diabetes linked to mothers' weight gain (Photograph: SPL)
Glucose testing: gestational diabetes linked to mothers' weight gain (Photograph: SPL)

The finding comes as NICE announced plans to issue advice on weight management in pregnancy, to dispel myths about the need to 'eat for two' or drink full-fat milk.

Kaiser Permanente researchers examined data on weight gain in 1,145 pregnant women up to their first screening for gestational diabetes at 24-28 weeks.

They divided the women into those who had gained below, within or above current US recommendations for weight gain during pregnancy (12.5-18kg for BMI less than 19.8; 11.5-16kg for BMI of 19.8-26; and 7-11.5kg for BMI more than 26).

Women who gained more weight than recommended had a 50 per cent higher risk of developing gestational diabetes.

This association between weight gain during pregnancy and gestational diabetes was more pronounced among overweight and non-white women.

Previous studies have shown a link between weight gain before pregnancy and developing gestational diabetes. But the researchers believe this is one of the first to support a direct association between weight gain in pregnancy and the risk of developing gestational diabetes.

'Our research shows weight gain in early pregnancy is a modifiable risk factor for gestational diabetes,' the study's lead author Dr Monique Hedderson said.

Comments on the NICE recommendations can be made via NICE's website until 18 March.

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