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Gestational diabetes not found to alter the metabolic processes in obese pregnant women

(June 22, 2004) - Bethesda, MD - Gestational diabetes is a type of diabetes, or high blood sugar, that only pregnant women get. If a woman is found to have high blood sugar when she's pregnant, but she never had high blood sugar before, she has gestational diabetes. Nearly 135,000 pregnant women get the condition every year, making it one of the top health concerns related to pregnancy.

The energy cost of pregnancy and amount of increased fat during pregnancy vary among women in different cultures. Consequently, recommendations for nutritional intake in pregnancy are diverse and depend on the study population, thereby making the development of general nutritional guidelines difficult.

Past studies have focused on long-term changes in energy expenditure and increase in fat in lean women (body fat less than 25 percent) with normal glucose tolerance (NGT) and gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM) relative to the alterations in carbohydrate metabolism during gestation.

However, similar data in obese women have not been reported. This is important to American women because the prevalence of obesity (defined as body mass index greater than 30) now approaches 20 percent in adolescents and adults, reaching epidemic proportions. Given the strong association of obesity with decreased insulin sensitivity, researchers prospectively evaluated changes, over an extended time period, in energy expenditure and increase in fat in a cohort of women with NGT and GDM, relative to the alterations in insulin sensitivity during gestation.

A New Study

A team of researchers has hypothesized that women with decreased pre-pregnancy insulin sensitivity, i.e. the GDM subjects, have a decrease in energy expenditure and an increase in fat accretion as compared with a matched NGT group. Additionally, because the role of the increased maternal serum leptin (a helical protein secreted by adipose tissue and acting on a receptor site in the ventromedial
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Contact: Mayer Resnick
mresnick@the-aps.org
301-634-7209
American Physiological Society
22-Jun-2004


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