Babies conceived in winter increases the odds of developing gestational diabetes

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Nov 16, 2016 01:15 PM EST

A new Australian study has recently revealed that women who conceive babies during the winter have a higher risk of developing gestational diabetes during pregnancy than those who get pregnant in other seasons. This was determined after a study of 60,000 South Australian babies.

News Medical reported that the research, led by the University of Adelaide has discovered that women whose babies are conceived during the winter time have a higher chance of developing gestational diabetes in the course of the pregnancy, which increases various risk factors for both the mother and child.

For the study, researchers examined 60,000 births in South Australia over a five-year period, is the first population-based study of its kind to determine a seasonal variation in gestational diabetes. The study, published in the journal BMJ Diabetes Research & Care, was spearheaded by the Robinson Research Institute at the University of Adelaide and involved the University of Groningen in the Netherlands and the Pregnancy Outcome Unit of SA Health.

Gestational diabetes mellitus is a serious pregnancy complication which is characterized by an inadequate blood sugar control during pregnancy. Complications of gestational diabetes may range from excessive birth weight, pre-term birth, and low blood sugar to the development of type 2 diabetes later in life.

According to the study, the incidence of pregnancies affected by gestational diabetes has risen with 4.9 percent of pregnancies affected in 2007 and that number increased to 7.2 percent in 2011.

Researchers of the study also found 6.6 per cent of pregnancies from winter conceptions, compared with 5.4 per cent of summer conceptions, were affected, reported ABC.

Lead author Dr. Petra Verburg from the University of Groningen said the factors that lead to gestational diabetes were still not fully understood.

"Previous studies have suggested that meteorological factors, physical activity, diet and vitamin D are risk factors for gestational diabetes, all of which are impacted by the winter season," Dr. Verburg said.

"Not only should our results be confirmed in other populations, future research should also investigate other factors that vary with season," she continues.

Meanwhile, research leader and senior author Professor Claire Roberts, from the University's Robinson Research Institute, says the results continue to show the broader impacts of the increasing body mass index (BMI) in women of reproductive age.

"Elevated BMI and low physical activity are risk factors for gestational diabetes, as well as low socio-economic status. These factors are modifiable, and they represent targets for interventions to prevent the rising tide of gestational diabetes," Professor Roberts says.

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