Conceive in summer to avoid gestational diabetes

Gestational diabetes is diabetes that occurs during pregnancy. 

Like type 2 diabetes it is on the rise. Therefore so is research into the factors that contribute to the onset of gestational diabetes. The hope is more knowledge can translate into better care, management and prevention.

Not surprisingly numerous studies have shown that factors such as physical activity and diet have a bearing on whether an expectant mum develops diabetes. Perhaps less expected is that meteorological factors and vitamin D may also play a role in increasing or decreasing susceptibility. 

What do all these factors have in common?

Well, they all differ between summer and winter months and are negatively impacted by the winter season.

New research out of Adelaide University shows women whose babies are conceived in winter are more likely to develop gestational diabetes during pregnancy. This makes it the first population-based study of its kind to confirm a seasonal variation in gestational diabetes. 

The study involved 60,000 births in South Australia over a 5 year period and found 6.6% of women who conceived in winter developed gestational diabetes, compared with 5.4% for summer conceptions.

What does this mean for further research?

It would be interesting to investigate other factors that vary with season and also across different countries and climates. But these current findings may be useful in terms of trying to reduce rates of diabetes in non-pregnant populations as well. After all, any knowledge that helps reverse the current trend is a positive. 

What does this mean for the expectant mum?

1) Make a conscious effort to keep exercise levels up even once days get colder and shorter. 

This may mean exercising more indoors, changing the time of day you exercise, increasing your amount of incidental exercise, or looking for ways to increase motivation – maybe even getting an exercise buddy or joining a group.

2) Ensure your hot comforting meals of winter are full of vegetables, lean protein and nutritious low GI carbs. 

Most people crave more carbs during winter for energy to keep warm, so it's important to make sure they are nutritious and slow releasing into the blood stream. Just changing from jasmine to basmati rice and white to grainy bread can improve the glycaemic load of a meal and therefore lower blood sugar levels.

3) Keep up your vitamin D as this is "the sunshine vitamin" and levels go down during winter due to less exposure to sunlight. 

Try to spend a bit of time outdoors and get 15 minutes of sunlight on your skin, include vitamin D rich foods such as tuna, beef, cheese, eggs and mushrooms in your diet and speak to your doctor about whether you need a prenatal supplement to fill the gap.

Source: BMJ Diabetes Research & Care; online Nov 16 2016


No comments made yet. Be the first to submit a comment
Already Registered? Login Here
Monday, 25 May 2020