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Study Finds Natural Way to Reduce Risk of Gestational Diabetes
January 31, 2013
A small pilot study out of the Department of Obstetrics at University Hospital in Messina, Italy says myo-inositol might reduce a woman’s risk of developing gestational diabetes.
Gestational diabetes is a disorder of the endocrine system involving blood sugar levels and the production of insulin. Women with a family history of diabetes, or those who are overweight, have greater incidence of developing diabetes during pregnancy. The condition affects as much as ten percent of all pregnant women in the United States. Fetal risks of gestational diabetes include large birth weight, pregnancy or birth complications, and an increased risk of the child developing diabetes later in life.
This study, published in the journal Diabetes Care, is the first of its kind linking the supplement to endocrine system regulation in pregnant women. Myo-inositol can regulate the menstrual cycle in women with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS), another endocrine disorder. It is considered a natural alternative to the drug Metformin, which is safe to take during pregnancy, without the gastrointestinal upset reported by Metformin users.
Scientists examined data of 220 women with a family history of type 2 diabetes. Myo-inositol supplements were given to 110 of the pregnant women twice daily from the end of the first trimester until birth. The control group of women received folic acid supplements only. Six percent of women who took the myo-inositol supplement developed diabetes, compared to 15 percent of women who took only the folic acid. All of the babies born to the myo-inositol group fell within normal weight range, while seven babies from the folic acid group were considered overweight.
Further research is required to determine long term effects of myo-inositol on the offspring, and a larger clinical trial will help physicians to understand how this data applies to the population overall.
Women with gestational diabetes usually do not suffer long term from the disorder as blood sugar levels return to normal after birth. However, 50% of women who have been diagnosed with gestational diabetes are at risk of developing type 2 diabetes within the next 10 years of their life, research suggests.
The results of this study are relevant to fertility patients in that maintaining a healthy diet before pregnancy is essential for preventing future health risks to the mother and child.