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Exercise Doesn't Prevent Pregnancy-Related Diabetes

SUMMARY: A new clinical trial found that pregnant women who exercised regularly during the second half of their pregnancies did not lower their odds of developing pregnancy-related diabetes.
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NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Pregnant women who exercised regularly during the second half of their pregnancies did not lower their odds of developing pregnancy-related diabetes in a new clinical trial.

Researchers in Norway found that when they randomly assigned 855 pregnant women to either exercise three times a week or to stick with regular prenatal care alone, the exercisers were no less likely to develop gestational diabetes.

By the third trimester, seven percent of the exercise group had been diagnosed with gestational diabetes, versus six percent of the comparison group.

The findings were surprising, according to lead researcher Signe N. Stafne of the Norwegian University of Science and Technology in Trondheim.

For the general population, exercise is considered an important part of preventing and treating type 2 diabetes -- the common form of diabetes that most often arises during middle-age or later.

It's possible, Stafne told Reuters Health in an email, that exercise does not have the same effect on gestational diabetes that it does on type 2.

But even if that's true, Stafne pointed out, there are still reasons for pregnant women to get moderate exercise: including their overall health and keeping their weight gain within the recommended limits.

It's estimated that up to 14 percent of pregnant women worldwide develop gestational diabetes, in which blood sugar levels rise too high. The condition goes away after childbirth, but it does raise the risk of certain other pregnancy problems -- like having an abnormally large baby, which may require a cesarean delivery.

Women with gestational diabetes are also at greater-than-normal risk of developing type 2 diabetes later in life.

While exercise can curb people's risk of type 2 diabetes, it has not been clear whether it can stave off gestational diabetes.

Study Details – Page 2

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