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Press Release

February 24, 2004


Oakland, CA — Kaiser Permanente researchers studying 267,000 women of various ethnic groups have found that the incidence of gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM) increased 35% from 1991 to 2000. The study appears in the Feb. 27 issue of Obstetrics and Gynecology. GDM appears in pregnant women, particularly those who are overweight or obese or members of certain races and ethnic groups. It can triple the risk that their children will have diabetes, and increase the risk that their daughters will have gestational diabetes as well. Children born to women with GDM can be abnormally large, and require birth by Cesarean section. (Press Release February 26, 2004)

“Children of women with gestational diabetes are also more likely to be premature, to have hypoglycemia, or to have severe jaundice at birth,” says lead author Dr. Assiamira Ferrara, of Kaiser Permanente’s Division of Research in Oakland, California. “And the mothers who have GDM need closer monitoring during their pregnancies to make sure no complications threaten their health or the health of their children.”

Dr. Ferrara also found in her study that the incidence of the disease is increasing more rapidly in younger women. 17,000 women with GDM were studied in the northern California region of KP.

“What this means,” says Dr. Ferrara, “is that we need to work even harder to ensure that every woman who is planning a pregnancy is at her healthiest. While we didn’t track body mass in these women, it’s well known that GDM is more likely to show up in a woman who is overweight or obese. If we can help women keep their weight at healthy levels, and control their glycemic levels, we may be able to stop what could otherwise be a rapid increase in the incidence of diabetes in general.”