Gestational Diabetes RiskResearchers from The National Institute for Health and Welfare, partnered with various hospitals and universities, recently published a cohort study on the possible impact on iron intake and hemoglobin levels in early pregnancy on the risk of developing gestational diabetes.

The study included maternity clinics in 14 areas in Finland. A total of 399 women already at increased risk of developing gestational diabetes were included in the study. All women were asked to participate in an educational prevention trial regarding gestational diabetes and all were followed for the duration of the pregnancy.

Gestational diabetes was diagnosed between weeks 26 and 28 of gestation using a glucose tolerance test. Iron intake was measured using a questionnaire of 181 common foods with a supplemental questionnaire being administered between 26 and 28 weeks gestation to determine supplemental intake.

Of the 399 women in the study, 72 were diagnosed with gestational diabetes. That accounts for just more than 18% of the study participants.

Adjustments were made for various factors that could alter the outcome of the study, including family history of diabetes, total caloric intake, total pregnancy weight gain, saturated fat, and fiber consumption and body mass index. Even after taking all these factors into consideration, women with high levels of iron intake developed gestational diabetes more often than high-risk participants who did not consume high levels of iron.

Researchers believe that high levels of iron intake in pregnant patients with an increased risk of gestational diabetes should be addressed on a prenatal level. If iron levels are reduced or brought within normal levels, either with dietary control or exclusion of iron from prenatal or another supplemental intake, this could decrease the risk of gestational diabetes in high-risk patients.

Source: Annika Helin, Tarja Inkeri Kinnunen, Jani Raitanen, Suvi Ahonen, Suvi M. Virtanen, Riita Luoto. Iron intake, hemoglobin, and risk of gestational diabetes: a prospective cohort study. BMJ Open 2012;2:e001730 doi:10.1136/bmjopen-2012-001730.

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