Preventing gestational diabetes – what works and what needs more research?

Recently, the number of women with gestational diabetes has increased worldwide and it occurs in almost six percent of all pregnant women. This increase could be explained by the common occurrence of becoming pregnant at a later age as well as the presence of overweight in expectant mothers. Additionally, the diagnosis methods of gestational diabetes have improved.

The subsequent risks of gestational diabetes, such as that more than half of women with gestational diabetes will develop type 2 diabetes within eight to ten years after childbirth, make it a priority to prevent pregnant women of developing gestational diabetes. The important prevention strategies for gestational diabetes are more physical activity and a balanced diet.

However, this begs the question:
Could pregnant women benefit from precise prevention strategies?

Currently, the answer is most likely.

If a woman already adheres to a healthy lifestyle or is more physically active before the pregnancy, research has shown that this choice reduces the risk of developing gestational diabetes. Yet, there is a lack of randomized clinical studies. Possible reasons include the difficulty of finding women who are planning to be pregnant and the pregnancy actually occuring. Additionally, the pregnancy could come as a surprise. Prevention interventions during the pregnancy are most efficient for women with a higher risk of gestational diabetes, when it starts at the beginning of the pregnancy.

However, the optimal combination of individual factors is still not clear. Is the increase of physical activity more important than modification of the diet? What and when should a pregnant woman adjust her nutrition in order to benefit from the intervention? These questions are just a few from what studies need to look at.

Marlo Verket

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