High Body Mass Index Doubles Risk of Gestational Diabetes
(Santa Ana) – A new study by the Health Care Agency has found that pregnant women in Orange County with a pre-pregnancy body mass index (BMI) of 25 or higher are twice as likely to develop gestational diabetes (GDM) compared to women with lower BMIs. Asian women, who have the highest prevalence rate of GDM at 10%, were more susceptible to GDM at much lower BMIs (average=23), which is within the ‘healthy body weight’ range (BMI 18.5 – 24.9). By comparison, women in other racial/ethnic groups, such as whites and Hispanics, who developed GDM tended to have higher average BMIs, in the 27 to 30 range.
Overall, about 7% of women (or about 2,605 in 2010) develop GDM during their pregnancy. GDM increases the risk of developing multiple complications such as preeclampsia (hypertension) or macrosomia (otherwise known as big baby syndrome). These prenatal conditions can endanger the health of both the mother and her baby.
“The increase in the prevalence of gestational diabetes is a troubling trend. This is especially a concern for Asian women, since they are more susceptible at much lower BMIs,” said co-author Dr. Helene Calvet, Deputy County Health Officer. “Gestational diabetes increases the likelihood of a woman having a serious complication during her pregnancy, and makes a cesarean section delivery more likely. The condition also puts a woman and her child at increased risk of developing diabetes in the future, potentially setting up a cycle of “diabetes begetting diabetes.”
While incidence of GDM has approximately doubled to 7.2% over the past decade for all women in Orange County, Asian women in particular have increased the most and have the highest incidence at 10%. Hispanic women had the second highest rate at 7.6%, followed by 5.4% of non-Hispanic whites and 6.0% of African Americans.
GDM, the most common prenatal complication in Orange County, is associated with overweight and obesity. Early prenatal care and a healthy lifestyle, including maintaining a healthy body weight can prevent or lessen the severity. Prenatal care providers and others who treat pregnant women or women planning to become pregnant need to be aware of the significant increase in GDM and the disproportionate impact on Asians in Orange County. The full report entitled “Mothers with a Higher Pre-Pregnancy Body Mass Index are at Increased Risk for Gestational Diabetes Mellitus” is available online at www.ochealthinfo.com/pubs.
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