Researchers seeking a better understanding of the risk factors for gestational diabetes reviewed data from more than 14,000 American women. Gestational diabetes occurs during pregnancy, and may have harmful effects on both the mother and the baby. The strongest risk factor identified was being overweight or obese during pregnancy. Women who were obese before pregnancy were found to have a four times higher risk of developing gestational diabetes as compared to women who had a normal weight before pregnancy.
Women who were a normal weight, physically active and did not smoke experienced a 52% lower risk of developing gestational diabetes. Researchers believe that 50% of gestational diabetes could be prevented if women of child-bearing age engaged in physical activity on a routine basis, maintain a healthy weight, and reframe from smoking. It is important to get this message out to women today as obesity levels among young women continue to rise.