Gestational diabetes is the diabetes developed during pregnancy. It causes high blood sugar that can affect the woman’s pregnancy and her baby’s health. Expectant women can control gestational diabetes by eating healthy, exercising and, if consulted by a doctor, taking medication. Controlling blood sugar can prevent a difficult birth and can also keep the woman and her baby healthy.
As difficult as it already is for a woman to develop gestational diabetes, new U.S. research has found a link between a lack of sleep during pregnancy and an increased risk of gestational diabetes.
According to the results of the research by the University of Illinois at Chicago College of Medicine, the large-scale meta-analysis was based on eight studies in which 17,308 pregnant women participated.
The studies asked from the women to self-report on their sleep duration, but one study measured sleep objectively using an accelerometer, and assessed the women for gestational diabetes. The researchers also gathered data from the authors of four additional studies which measured the blood sugar levels and sleep duration of 287 pregnant women with gestational diabetes. The results showed that approximately 6 hours sleep a night was associated with a 1,7 fold increase in the risk of being diagnosed with gestational diabetes.
According to the lead author of the study, Dr Sirimon Reutrakul, it is the first meta-analysis that shows both self-reported and objectively measured women with short sleep duration to have been associated with elevated blood sugar levels in pregnancy as well as an increased risk for developing gestational diabetes.
It must be noted that even though gestational diabetes often occurs in the second or third trimester and affects 3% to 7% of all pregnancies with the blood sugar levels returned to normal after the baby is born, the condition does put women at an increased risk for developing type 2 diabetes later on.
Babies born to mothers with gestational diabetes also tend to have an increased risk of type 2 diabetes and obesity later in life.
Doctors suggest that pregnant women undergo a blood sugar screening test between 24 and 28 weeks of pregnancy as high blood sugar levels indicate a higher risk of developing gestational diabetes. An additional test is also needed to diagnose the condition.