It's already established that obesity in pregnancy is a risk factor for developing gestational diabetes (GD), a temporary form of insulin resistance that some moms-to-be develop at the beginning of the third trimester. But could doctors someday pinpoint—as early as the first trimester—exactly which overweight women will develop high blood sugar? That's what a team of Canadian researchers think after a study they conducted found that obese women who were noted early in pregnancy as having both an apple shape (abdominal obesity) and high triglyceride levels were significantly more likely to develop gestational diabetes compared to other overweight pregnant women.
Tracking 144 pregnant women in the province of Quebec, researchers noted that 143 of 144 had a normal fasting glucose in their first trimester (the current early screening test for GD). Study authors concluded that "measurement of waist girth in combination with triglyceride concentrations in the first trimester of pregnancy may be useful in the improvement of early screening for gestational diabetes." The study was published online September 20, 2010, in the Canadian Medical Association Journal.
As many as one in every five pregnant women will go on to develop high blood glucose and insulin resistance in pregnancy. Obesity is only one of several factors that increase risk for GD, other high-risk groups include: older moms-to-be, women carrying multiples, women with a history of diabetes or gestational diabetes, women of African-American, Native American, Asian, Hispanic or Pacific Island ancestry, and women who have previously given birth to a high birth weight baby. But according to the March of Dimes, even women without any of these risk factors can develop gestational diabetes. For this reason, healthcare providers screen most pregnant women for diabetes, usually between the 24th and 28th week of pregnancy, when high blood glucose is most likely to develop.