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New gestational diabetes guidelines could find more women at risk

February 26, 2010 |  6:00 am

New blood sugar measurements used to determine gestational diabetes could mean that lower levels may pose risks for mother and baby.

H6y0e0kf The findings, released Friday and published in the March issue of Diabetes Care, were based on a study that included more than 23,000 women in nine countries. Researchers discovered that a fasting blood sugar level of 92 or higher, a one-hour level of 180 or higher on a glucose tolerance test or a two-hour level of 153 or higher on a glucose tolerance test may present grave risks to both mother and child. Before, these numbers were believed to be in the normal range.

If healthcare providers go by these levels, far more pregnant women could be diagnosed with gestational diabetes.

"This study says these risks to pregnancy are like many things we deal with in medicine," said the study's lead author, Dr. Boyd Metzger of Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago. "The risk of having a stroke doesn’t begin when your blood pressure is 140 over 80. That's when we say you have hypertension, but that's not where the risk begins to affect your health. That starts sooner. A similar situation is how your cholesterol level relates to the risk of having heart disease. It doesn't begin at 200. That's where it reaches the threshold where common treatments can reduce the risks."

Researchers are finding more about what may trigger gestational diabetes. A study published this week in the journal Obstetrics & Gynecology found that women who gain weight in the first trimester of pregnancy were at a higher risk for gestational diabetes than women who did not, and obese women who gained weight during that period were especially at risk.

-- Jeannine Stein

Photo credit: Lori Shepler / Los Angeles Times

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