Increasing obesity rates may have contributed to a 35% rise in pregnancy-related diabetes among California women during the 1990s.
Scientists knew that obesity was driving up overall rates of diabetes, but didn't know whether that was also happening with gestational diabetes, which arises in pregnancy, most often in older mothers and African American, Asian, Latina and Native American women.
Researchers studied 267,051 pregnancies among Kaiser Permanente members in Northern California who had been screened for high blood sugar. In comparing the numbers of women with gestational diabetes in each of the years from 1991 to 2000, they found that the overall incidence increased, including a rise in cases among young mothers and white mothers.
Women who develop diabetes during pregnancy can sometimes control it with diet and exercise; others undergo short-term treatment with insulin or other medications. Their sugar levels often return to normal after delivery, although they remain at an elevated risk of eventually developing diabetes.