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Diabetes Channel
Reported April 28, 2008

Diabetes Before Pregnancy Doubles in Women, Teens

(Ivanhoe Newswire) -- More women and teens are developing diabetes before they become pregnant.

A new study from Kaiser Permanente looked at 175,249 teenagers and adults who gave birth in Southern California between 1999 and 2005. It finds twice as many cases of pre-pregnancy diabetes during the six years. The disease increased fivefold among 13- to 19-year-olds, doubled among women 20- and 39-year-olds, and went up 40 percent among women 40 and older giving birth. Black, Hispanic, and Asian/Pacific Islander women were more likely to have diabetes before becoming pregnant than White women.

Researchers say more young women are starting their reproductive years with diabetes, partly because our society as a whole is more overweight and obese. They stress taking steps to reduce their risk.

"My advice to women who have type 1 or type 2 diabetes and are thinking about becoming pregnant is: work with your health care professional to get your blood sugar in good control," lead author Jean M. Lawrence, Sc.D., M.P.H., M.S.S.A., Kaiser Permanente's Department of Research & Evaluation, was quoted as saying. "If you are pre-diabetic or have type 2 diabetes and are overweight, work on reducing your weight by a few pounds before becoming pregnant. And women with gestational diabetes should have their blood sugar level tested after they've given birth to make sure it returns to normal."

The authors say pre-pregnancy diabetes is more dangerous and potentially harder to treat than gestational diabetes -- a condition women get during pregnancy that usually goes away after the baby is born. Pre-existing diabetes is more likely to lead to miscarriages, stillbirths, and babies with birth defects because pregnant women may have elevated blood sugar during the critical first trimester when the baby's organs are developing.

The authors conclude limiting obesity is the best way to reduce the growing amount of type 2 diabetes in young women.

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SOURCE: Diabetes Care, published online April 28, 2008

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