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Seasonal higher temperatures are tied to an increased risk for gestational diabetes (2017-05-18)

Researchers found Canadian women were more likely to be diagnosed with gestational diabetes if they were exposed to higher average outdoor temperatures during pregnancy, compared to women who were pregnant in cooler periods.

Lead author Dr. Gillian Booth, of St. Michaelís Hospital and the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences in Toronto and colleagues write in the Canadian Medical Association Journal that research suggests exposure to the cold increases people's sensitivity to the hormone insulin.

People with type 2 diabetes and gestational diabetes don't respond to or don't produce enough of the hormone, which helps the body convert sugar into energy.

For the new study, the researchers analyzed data from 396,828 women and their 555,911 deliveries in the Greater Toronto Area from 2002 to 2014.

They identified all births in the Greater Toronto Area from 2002 to 2014 using administrative health databases.

Generalized estimating equations were used to examine the relation between the mean 30-day outdoor air temperature before the time of gestational diabetes mellitus screening and the likelihood of diagnosis of gestational diabetes mellitus based on a validated algorithm using hospital records and physician service claims.

The researchers compared the risk of developing diabetes during pregnancy among women exposed to an average outdoor temperature of at most -10 degrees Celsius (C), or 14 degrees Fahrenheit (F), during the 30 days before their gestational diabetes test to women exposed to at least 24 degrees C, about 75 degrees F, before their tests.

The prevalence of gestational diabetes among women exposed to colder outdoor temperatures was 4.6 percent, compared to 7.7 percent among women exposed to warmer temperatures.

But the new study can't prove that warmer temperatures cause women to have gestational diabetes. For example, there may be other seasonal factors influencing the risk of gestational diabetes like fluctuating vitamin D levels, said Dr. Kathryn Drennan, a maternal fetal medicine physician at the University of Rochester Medical Center in New York, who wasn't involved with the new study.

For more information
Influence of environmental temperature on risk of gestational diabetes