Packing on pounds between pregnancies may increase risk of gestational diabetes

There is no shortage of evidence that obesity and weight gain have negative effects on an individual's health. However, it may be especially important for mothers-to-be to maintain a healthy body mass in between pregnancies, since failure to do so may lead to gestational diabetes.

According to a recent study published in the journal Obstetrics and Gynecology, women who gain weight between their first and second pregnancies are more likely to develop gestational diabetes. Some people think that this condition is only temporary, but research has indicated that women with gestational diabetes often develop type 2 diabetes later in life.

The study's results showed that participants who gained 12 to 17 pounds between pregnancies had a more than two times increased risk of developing gestational diabetes, compared to those who maintained a relatively stable weight. Furthermore, subjects who gained upwards of 18 pounds during this time were at least three times more likely to experience the condition.

"Taken together, the results support the avoidance of gestational weight retention and postpartum weight gain to decrease the risk of gestational diabetes in a second pregnancy, as well as the promotion of postpartum weight loss in overweight or obese women," said lead researcher Samantha Ehrlich, MPH.

Shedding pounds can be difficult at any stage of life, particularly for new mothers who have little time to focus on their own health. However, the American Diabetes Association stresses the importance of weight loss and a healthy lifestyle for preventing type 2 diabetes.

The organization notes that individuals do not need to lose a significant amount of body mass in order to lower their risk of developing gestational diabetes or type 2 diabetes. In fact, shedding as little as five pounds can reduce these odds, the group explains.

For women who develop gestational diabetes during pregnancy, increasing their amount of daily exercise may help boost metabolism, increase healthy muscle mass and improve insulin sensitivity.