As Temps Rise, Risk of Pregnancy Complication May Too

From Drugs.com - May 15, 2017

As Temps Rise, Risk of Pregnancy Complications May Too

MONDAY, May 15, 2017 -- Outdoor air temperature may influence a pregnant woman's risk of developing gestational diabetes, a new study suggests.

Mothers-to-be in very cold climes are less likely to develop diabetes during pregnancy than women exposed to hotter temperatures, researchers say.

If borne out in other studies, these findings could have important implications for the prevention and management of gestational diabetes, said study lead author Dr. Gillian Booth.

Changes in temperature may only lead to a small increase in the risk of gestational diabetes, but the number of women affected may be substantial, said Booth. She is a scientist at the Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute at St. Michael's Hospital in Toronto.

Also, areas that are getting hotter because of climate change could see more cases of gestational diabetes, the study authors theorized.

Others are less certain of this link, however.

"Temperature and risk of diabetes is a hot topic," said Dr. Joel Zonszein, director of the clinical diabetes center at Montefiore Medical Center in New York City.

However, the study does not show a direct cause-and-effect relationship, and Zonszein cautioned that it's too soon to consider the findings definitive.

"Pregnant women or those wanting to become pregnant should not pay attention to this finding at this time, as more studies are needed to show a true causal effect," said Zonszein, who was not involved in the study.

Moreover, "the findings of this study do not support that climate change, a rise in global temperatures, increases the incidence of diabetes in Canada or worldwide," he said.

Booth explained that gestational diabetes in women develops in the second trimester of pregnancy and is usually temporary. Women are screened for it at 24 to 28 weeks of pregnancy.

If there is a connection between temperature and gestational diabetes risk, cells called brown fat might help explain it.

According to Zonszein, "Brown fat cells are cells that -- instead of storing energy -- burn energy."

Booth speculated that extreme cold triggers activity of brown fat, thus controlling weight gain. It might even lead to weight loss, improving blood-sugar levels, she noted.

However, Zonszein said that many environmental factors -- such as excessive food intake, sugary drinks, inactivity, stress and lack of sleep -- can cause gestational diabetes in women genetically susceptible to the disease.

"Genetic factors are very important," he said, "and they are affected by many environmental factors, probably temperature is one more."


Continue reading at Drugs.com »