But, during that six-year period, gestational diabetes rates remained nearly unchanged. In 1999, 7.5 women per 100 births had gestational diabetes; in 2005, it was 7.4 women per 100 births.
What did change during the study period was the proportion of preexisting diabetes compared to gestational diabetes. In 1999, of all pregnancies affected by diabetes, 10 percent were due to preexisting diabetes, while 90 percent were due to gestational diabetes. In 2005, 21 percent of women had preexisting diabetes, compared to 79 percent with gestational diabetes, according to the study.
The researchers also noted some differences in race and age. Black, Hispanic and Asian/Pacific women were more likely to have diabetes before birth, and teens and women over 40 experienced dramatic jumps in their pre-pregnancy diabetes rates. Teen mothers saw a fivefold increase in preexisting diabetes, while mothers over 40 saw a 40 increase in the rate of pre-pregnancy diabetes.
Experts blame much of the increase on the rising trend of overweight and obesity.
"We saw an increase in type 2 diabetes. That's due to the increase in overweight and obesity. Also, type 2 is being diagnosed at younger ages," said Lawrence, who suggested that women do whatever they can to reduce their risk of type 2 diabetes by eating a healthful diet, maintaining a proper weight and being active. She said there's no known way to prevent type 1 diabetes.
Dr. Stuart Weiss, an endocrinologist at the New York University Langone Medical Center, said he "was surprised that the incidence of gestational diabetes wasn't up."
For women who know they have diabetes before pregnancy, Weiss advised: "Control your blood glucose levels as aggressively as possible. Control isn't easy to do, because you have to have adequate nutrition and still control your blood sugar."
But, he added, it's crucial to try, because it may help prevent some of the
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