Pregnancy weight gain may increase a woman's risk of gestational diabetes

NEW YORK Women who gain excessive weight during pregnancy, especially in the first trimester, may increase their risk of developing diabetes later in their pregnancy, according to a study by the Kaiser Permanente Division of Research that appears online in the current issue of Obstetrics and Gynecology.

The three-year study of 1,145 pregnant women from an ethnically diverse population found that women who gained more weight than is recommended by the Institute of Medicine had a 50% increased risk of developing gestational diabetes mellitus, also known as GDM. The association between pregnancy weight gain and gestational diabetes risk was more pronounced among overweight and nonwhite women. The study included 345 pregnant women with gestational diabetes and 800 pregnant women without gestational diabetes.

Gestational diabetes is defined as glucose intolerance that typically occurs during the second or third trimester of pregnancy. It causes complications in as much asĀ 7% of pregnancies in the United States. It can lead to early delivery, C-sections and Type 2 diabetes, and can increase the child's risk of developing diabetes and obesity later in life.

"Healthcare providers should talk to their patients early in their pregnancy about the appropriate gestational weight gain, especially during the first trimester, and help women monitor their weight gain. Our research shows that weight gain in early pregnancy is a modifiable risk factor for gestational diabetes," said the study's lead author Monique Hedderson, PhD, a scientist at the Kaiser Permanente Division of Research. "Randomized studies are needed to determine the feasibility of this early intervention and the best methods to help women meet the IOM recommendations."

The study is among the first to support a direct link between pregnancy weight gain and gestational diabetes risk. Previous research has shown that weight gain before pregnancy and being overweight or obese at the start of pregnancy are risk factors for gestational diabetes.

This study was funded by the American Diabetes Association and the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases.