Type 2 Diabetes – Preventing Health Problems After Gestational Diabetes

Gestational diabetes or pregnancy-related diabetes puts women at risk for developing diabetes in the years ahead. Studies show a seven to tenfold elevated risk for Type 2 diabetes within ten years after the pregnant woman gave birth. Scientists at the Queen’s University in Belfast and several other research institutions in Ireland found a formal professional support program helped women with weight loss after having Gestational diabetes.

In May of 2018, the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism reported on the results of the interventional program over a six month period. The interventions consisted of…

  • a one hour lecture,
  • a referral to a commercial weight management organization,
  • a pedometer, and
  • telephone and text support,

over and above the usual care. A total of 29 women received the interventions while 31 were given the “usual” attention only. The interventional group lost an average of 3.9 kg, while the participants receiving the “usual” care averaged only 0.7 kg weight loss. The interventional group also reported less pain than the “usual” care group.

From the above results, the researchers concluded the intervention was successful and could likely help to prevent Type 2 diabetes after the mother had developed diabetes during her pregnancy.

But how does having Gestational diabetes raise the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes? One possibility has to do with bacteria in the digestive system. In May of 2018, the journal Microbiome reported on a study from the University of Copenhagen, Novo Nordisk Pharmaceuticals, and various other research institutions in Denmark. They compared…

  • 50 women who had been diagnosed with diabetes during their pregnancy, with
  • 157 healthy pregnant women

in their last three months of pregnancy and again eight months after giving birth…

  • the women with Gestational diabetes had abnormal levels of several species of bacteria both during pregnancy and eight months later.
  • the women with healthy blood sugar levels had the species of bacteria typically seen in the human gut, and in the same proportions customarily found.

Abnormalities observed in the stomach of the women who had Gestational diabetes were similar to what is often seen in people who had Type 2 diabetes. Some species of bacteria were linked to higher insulin resistance, the cause of Type 2 diabetes. Others were linked with higher blood sugar levels.

Someday it might be possible to prevent pregnant women developing diabetes and Type 2 diabetes by manipulating gut microbes. In the meantime…

  • weight control,
  • a healthy diet, and
  • a reasonable amount of physical activity

are the mainstays of prevention of Type 2 diabetes and much of what else ails us.

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