Few things affect the body as much as a pregnancy. When all systems are challenged to produce a new little person, the margins decrease. A common complication is so-called gestational diabetes, affecting two to three percent of all pregnant women in Sweden. This form of diabetes is because sensitivity to insulin – the hormone that transports glucose into the cells – decreases. If the body is unable to increase its insulin production, a condition with constantly high blood sugar levels arises. Gestational diabetes is detected through a simple check of blood sugar, which is routine in maternity care. It generally passes after pregnancy but is critical to treat because it can, among other things, lead to a sharp weight gain in the unborn child. Research shows that gestational diabetes in the mother can affect the baby’s DNA and harm the baby’s future health. Effects include impaired weight control and a greater risk of developing type 2 diabetes. But a sizeable English study that followed more than 550 women with gestational diabetes and their children shows that this can be counteracted… and what helps is the “old usual”: a healthier diet and more physical activity.
The study shows a reduced DNA impact in the child when the expectant mother replaces the fast carbohydrates with slow ones and starts exercising at a reasonable level. This has long been prescribed against gestational diabetes. Now we also know more about how it affects the child.
What are the cause and effect is, as usual, difficult to find out. My guess is that part of the explanation is that exercise, and healthier eating lead to an improved metabolism that reduces the strain on the body and helps the systems cope with the increased load that pregnancy means.
Unfortunately, the risk of relapse is high once having had gestational diabetes. And since overweight is the single most significant risk factor, a healthy and active lifestyle is recommended both before, during, and after pregnancy.
… And when I talk about overweight, it’s not about the exact figure on the scales. No one should have to feel inadequate based on numbers for weight or BMI. Instead, divert your thinking to good things in life, such as your body’s.
Moderation in everything is a principle that I like.
Read more about the study mentioned above here.