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It's a Boy! (And it might mean diabetes.)

May 27, 2015 02:00PM ● Published by Cate Reynolds

An unborn child’s gender can affect the mother’s risk of developing gestational diabetes or Type 2 diabetes later in life, according to a new study published in the Endocrine Society’s Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism. The study found women who were having sons were more likely to develop gestational diabetes than women who were pregnant with daughters.

Gestational diabetes occurs when a pregnant woman has higher levels of glucose, or blood sugar, in the bloodstream than normal. Women who have been diagnosed with gestational diabetes face a greater risk of developing Type 2 diabetes in the future. As many as nine percent of pregnant women develop gestational diabetes, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

“It is thought that gestational diabetes occurs because of a combination of underling metabolic abnormalities in the mother and temporary metabolic changes that take place during pregnancy,” said one of the study’s authors, Baiju R. Shah, M.D., PhD, of the University of Toronto. “Our findings suggest a male fetus leads to greater pregnancy-associated metabolic changes than a female fetus does.”

The study used insurance records from the Ontario area to analyze the rate of diabetes cases among nearly 643,000 women who delivered their first child between April 2000 and March 2010. While the researchers found women who were having boys were more likely to develop gestational diabetes, women who did develop gestational diabetes while they were pregnant with daughters were at higher risk of being diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes after pregnancy. This suggests these women had more serious underlying metabolic abnormalities that made them more susceptible to gestational diabetes, even without the added impact of a developing male fetus, Shah said.

“Public health programs often focus on how a pregnant mother’s health, behavior and physiology can impact the health of her baby,” Shah said. “This study, however, suggests that the baby can help us better understand the health of the mother, and can help us predict her risks for future diseases.”

What’s Up? does not give medical advice. This material is simply a discussion of current information, trends, and topics. Please seek the advice of a physician before making any changes to your lifestyle or routine.

--Sarah Hagerty
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