Diabetes linked to birth defects, but obesity is not
A study published in the medical journal Obstetrics & Gynecology has cleared obesity as a condition that causes birth defects, but the news was not so good for diabetics.
The 13 year study looked at the pregnancies of 41,902 women whose weight was at or near obesity to determine if extra pounds were indicative of increased incidence of birth defects. The results of the study showed that obesity in and of itself showed “no significant independent association between maternal obesity” and birth defects.
The study went on to conclude that “diabetes was significantly associated with the increase in the rate” of birth defects.
Obesity and diabetes have long been known as contributing risk factors for each other. Because of this, health professionals encourage prospective mothers with risk factors for type 2 diabetes (such as obesity) to be checked by their physician.
Type 2 diabetes - risk factors
You have a higher risk for diabetes if you have any of the following:
* Age greater than 45 years
* Diabetes during a previous pregnancy
* Excess body weight (especially around the waist)
* Family history of diabetes
* Given birth to a baby weighing more than 9 pounds
* HDL cholesterol under 35 mg/dL
* High blood levels of triglycerides, a type of fat molecule (250 mg/dL or more)
* High blood pressure (greater than or equal to 140/90 mmHg)
* Impaired glucose tolerance
* Low activity level (exercising less than 3 times a week)
* Metabolic syndrome
* Polycystic ovarian syndrome
* A condition called acanthosis nigricans, which causes dark, thickened skin around the neck or armpits
Persons from certain ethnic groups, including African Americans, Hispanic Americans, Asian Americans, and Native Americans, have a higher risk for diabetes.
Everyone over 45 should have a blood sugar (glucose) test at least every 3 years. Regular testing of blood sugar levels should begin at a younger age, and be performed more often if you are at higher risk for diabetes.
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