Posted by on October 14, 2012 - 10:18am


The rising rates of diabetes during pregnancy was explored in a new study reported at a recent Obesity Society meeting.   Kelly Hunt, PhD, Medical University of South Carolina reported that the estimated rate of diabetes during pregnancy (combining gestational a pre-pregnancy diabetes)  increased from 5% to 8.7% among white women and from 5.7% to 9.7% among black women.

She said diabetes rates overall increased because of the obesity epidemic and the rising age at which women are giving birth.

"One thing that's good is that the awareness of diabetes during pregnancy has increased a lot in the past 20 years, which is important because you want either pre-pregnancy diabetes or gestational diabetes to be treated during pregnancy so that the impact on the infant is minimized," Hunt said.

Exposure to diabetes during pregnancy has been associated with birth defects, higher birth weight, and greater risks of childhood and adult obesity in the offspring.

"More interventions are needed, both to reduce the prevalence of diabetes prior to pregnancy and to prevent women who have gestational diabetes from subsequently developing type 2 diabetes," she added. "So I would say the take-home message is that we have a lot more work to do and with the obesity and diabetes epidemics, we really need to be thinking about how they're impacting the next generation."

Primary source: The Obesity Society
Source reference:
Hunt K, et al "Prevalence estimates of diabetes during pregnancy in United States women, 1980 to 2008" Obesity Society 2012; Abstract 744-P.


Posted by on October 25, 2011 - 9:44am

Women who take angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors to treat high blood pressure in the first trimester of their pregnancies are at no greater risk of having babies with birth defects than are women who take other types of high blood pressure medication or who take no blood pressure drugs, according to a new study from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' (HHS) Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ). The study suggests that the underlying high blood pressure itself may increase the risk of birth defects, rather than blood pressure medications taken during the first trimester of pregnancy.

ACE inhibitors are among the most widely prescribed drugs used to treat high blood pressure, particularly for people who also have diabetes. ACE inhibitors are known to raise the rate of birth defects in the second and third trimesters of pregnancy, and one earlier study reported a link between the use of ACE inhibitors and birth defects in the first trimester of pregnancy. But the new AHRQ report, based on a study of a larger population, did not find a unique link between first-trimester ACE inhibitor use and birth defects.

Results of the study, prepared for AHRQ's Effective Health Care Program by the HMO Research Network—a member of AHRQ's Developing Evidence to Improve Decisions about Effectiveness (DEcIDE) Network—are published in the October 18 issue of BMJ.

"Some women of child-bearing age have high blood pressure, and about half of them will get pregnant while taking one or more medications to treat it," said AHRQ Director Carolyn M. Clancy, M.D. "This report should lead to more informed discussions by women, in consultation with their doctors, about the best way to manage their high blood pressure, particularly if they become pregnant."

ACE inhibitors are also used to treat heart failure and to protect some people from diabetes complications. Yet because they work by inhibiting an enzyme in the kidney, physicians counsel caution in taking them in the second and third trimesters of pregnancy, a crucial period of development for the unborn baby. ACE inhibitors carry a "black box" warning from the Food and Drug Administration—that agency's strongest warning—against their use in the second and third trimesters of pregnancy.

A study published in 2006 that examined nearly 30,000 births over 15 years to mothers enrolled in Tennessee's Medicaid system suggested that pregnant women who took ACE inhibitors in the first trimester of pregnancy had babies with birth defects at approximately three times the rate of mothers who were not taking medicines for high blood pressure. But the new AHRQ study—which examined more than 465,000 babies born over 13 years in the Kaiser Permanente Northern California region—found no such correlation. The new report found that birth defects occurred at the same rate among all women with high blood pressure, regardless of whether they took ACE inhibitors, other drugs to treat high blood pressure or no blood pressure drugs.

While the AHRQ study did not conclude that high blood pressure is explicitly to blame for increased birth defects, researchers said that the findings suggest that underlying high blood pressure likely results in increased birth defects. Thus, taking steps to reduce blood pressure before pregnancy—including losing weight and reducing sodium intake—may reduce the risk of birth defects.

Results of the study, prepared for AHRQ's Effective Health Care Program by the HMO Research Network—a member of AHRQ's Developing Evidence to Improve Decisions about Effectiveness (DEcIDE) Network—are published in the October 18 issue of BMJ.

Posted by on April 19, 2011 - 2:05pm

Today, over 250 health professionals attended our monthly forum on the environment and reproductive health and I am certain that no one left the room doubting that the chemicals we are exposed to at home, at work, in our food, and in the air are harmful to reproductive health.   Dr. Tracey Woodruff from the Program on Reproductive Health and the Environment from UC SF was our outstanding speaker.   A summary of her presentation will be posted in a few days on this blog but if you are concerned about the effect of chemicals on you and your family, especially children, she directed us to a brochure her institution produced that is available free on line that is filled with helpful hints.    Click on Toxic Matters to download a free copy and check back in a few days for our summary article.