Pregnancy-Related Diabetes Increases 35% Among California Residents in 1990s, Study Finds
Pregnancy-related diabetes among California residents increased by "an alarming" 35% in the 1990s, according to a Kaiser Permanente study in Friday's issue of the journal Obstetrics and Gynecology, the San Jose Mercury News reports. In the study, researchers from Kaiser Permanente examined the medical records of 267,051 pregnant women who were Kaiser patients from 1991 to 2000. The study found that almost 17,000 women in 2000 had gestational diabetes, a 35% increase since 1991. Although older and minority women are traditionally at higher risks for gestational diabetes, the researchers found "pronounced increases" of the condition among young and white mothers, the Mercury News reports. Lead study author Assiamira Ferrara said that higher obesity rates are responsible for the increased rates of gestational diabetes, which is marked by increased blood sugar levels that often return to normal levels after childbirth. Some women can control gestational diabetes with diet and exercise, while others must take insulin injections or the drug glyburide, the Mercury News reports. Researchers are concerned about the increase in gestational diabetes because women with the condition are at a high risk of having diabetes-prone, premature or abnormally large babies that must be delivered by caesarian section. In addition, women with gestational diabetes also might develop chronic diabetes after childbirth. Dr. Kimberlee Sorem, medical director of the diabetes and pregnancy program at Stanford Medical Center, said that a family history of diabetes or a previous birth of a baby over nine pounds also contribute to increased risk for developing gestational diabetes. Sorem added that better diagnosis might have played a role in the increased incidence of gestational diabetes. While the incidence of gestational diabetes increased 35%, the chances of developing the condition are still relatively small, with less than 7% of pregnant women in the study affected in 2000, the Mercury News reports. The study was funded by CDC and the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (Feder, San Jose Mercury News, 2/27).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.