Health experts have known for some time that obese and diabetic women tend to have abnormally large babies. Now, new research suggests this troubling issue may arise earlier than expected. If you are an expecting mother who is either overweight or diabetic, learn the potential risks associated with diabetes, obesity and pregnancy.
Understanding the Risks
Obesity can have a major impact on the health of pregnant mothers and their unborn babies by increasing the risk of:
- Overdue pregnancies
- Labor problems
- Pregnancy loss
- Birth defects
Obesity also increases the risk of gestational diabetes, which can lead to early (preterm) birth, respiratory distress syndrome, hypoglycemia, excessive birth weight and an increased risk of Type 2 diabetes later in life.
To mitigate these risks, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommends that women be screened for gestational diabetes after the 24th week of pregnancy.
According to a study from the University of Cambridge, however, patients might benefit from earlier screenings. In fact, according to researchers, their study showed that babies of obese women were more likely to grow excessively large as early as 20 weeks into a pregnancy.
Why It Matters
Early testing gives doctors the benefit of early intervention, which has the potential to reduce the risk of problematic outcomes. Right now, experts say it is too early to recommend earlier screenings based solely on this recent research.
That said, pregnant women who are obese or diabetic should take this study and others like it as an impetus to pay closer attention to their eating habits throughout pregnancy. Experts also urge regular doctor visits to monitor for any potential signs of difficulties.