Winter Conception Increases Risk of Gestational Diabetes

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Winter Conception Linked to Gestational Diabetes

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A new study revealed that women whose babies are conceived in winter are more likely to develop gestational diabetes during pregnancy.

This is the first population-based study of its kind to confirm a seasonal variation in gestational diabetes.

This study was led by the Robinson Research Institute at the University of Adelaide with the cooperation of the University of Groningen in the Netherlands and the Pregnancy Outcome Unit of SA Health.

The Study

To probe further on the relationship between gestational diabetes and the season a baby is conceived, the researchers investigated more than 60,000 births in South Australia over a five-year period.

Interestingly, the study found that women who conceived in winter were more likely to develop gestational diabetes during their pregnancy, with 6.6% of pregnancies from winter conceptions affected.

In addition, the study showed that in the five years from 2007-2011, the incidence of pregnancies affected by gestational diabetes increased, with 4.9% of pregnancies affected in 2007, increasing to 7.2% in 2011.

What about those who were who conceived in summer? The study showed that babies conceived in summer were less likely to develop gestational diabetes, with 5.4% of summer conceptions affected.

A baby bump.
A baby bump.

The Explanation

Dr Petra Verburg who is currently based at the University of Adelaide’s Robinson Research Institute and at the Lyell McEwin Hospital, has an interesting explanation for why winter conception is linked to gestational diabetes.

Verburg said, “Previous studies have suggested that meteorological factors, physical activity, diet and vitamin D are risk factors for gestational diabetes, all of which are impacted by the winter season.”

Although this key finding is a breakthrough, the researchers called for further research.

Verburg added, “Not only should our results be confirmed in other populations, future research should also investigate other factors that vary with season.”

Gestational Diabetes Complications

Gestational diabetes is to be taken seriously for its serious complications in pregnant women and their babies. Gestational diabetes is a type of diabetes that develops only during pregnancy. This pregnancy complication is characterized by inadequate blood sugar control in pregnancy. If one has gestational diabetes, the baby may be at increased risk of excessive birth weight, early (preterm) birth and respiratory distress syndrome, low blood sugar (hypoglycemia), and developing type 2 diabetes later in life.

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