Increased weight gain between pregnancies raises gestational diabetes risk in women according to a new study published in the PLOS Medicine journal.
This type of diabetes usually occurs in late pregnancy as the placenta releases hormones that interfere with insulin (the blood sugar regulating hormone in the body).
The condition increases the risk of a baby being born prematurely, developing breathing complications and getting abnormal sugar levels that may cause seizures.
The child may also have excess weight that lead to birth difficulties even as they become more likely to develop type ‘2’ diabetes later in life.
For mothers, having unmanaged gestational diabetes increases the risk of high blood pressure in pregnancy or pre-eclampsia that can cause organ damage and excessive bleeding during delivery.
The researchers studied 24,198 women in Norway who had a first and second pregnancy between 2006 and 2014.
They looked at their Body Max Index (BMI) which measures body fat based on people’s height and weight.
Individuals with a BMI of 25 and above are considered overweight while those with a BMI of 30 and above are deemed obese.
The results of the study showed that women whose BMI went up by about one and two units - between the start of their first and second pregnancy - had a double risk of developing gestational diabetes while those that gained four or more units had a five-fold increased chance of suffering from the condition.
These increased risks were strongest in women who had a healthy weight (BMI of below 25) during their first pregnancy.
But researchers also found that if overweight women reduced their BMI by about two units between their first and second pregnancy, then the risk of gestational diabetes ended up going down significantly.
ALSO READ: A new medical hope for infertile women