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Rates of Gestational Diabetes Higher in the Summer Months

Swedish study suggests, but can't prove, that rising temperatures might raise risk


WEDNESDAY, Sept. 14, 2016 (HealthDay News) -- Gestational diabetes may be more common in the summer than in other seasons, according to research presented at the annual meeting of the European Association for the Study of Diabetes, held from Sept. 12 to 16 in Munich.

The new study involved 11,538 pregnant women and was led by Anastasia Katsarou, M.D., of Lund University in Malmö, Sweden. Her team tracked seasonal patterns in rates of gestational diabetes, as well as glucose tolerance. All of the women took a standard oral glucose tolerance test during their pregnancies, with testing occurring during their 28th week. Gestational diabetes affected nearly 500 of the women.

The researchers found that rates of the condition jumped significantly by time period: from 2.9 percent in March to 5.8 percent in June. The overall seasonal frequency of gestational diabetes rose from 3.3 percent in the spring to 5.5 percent during the summer. During the summer months of June, July, and August, women's blood glucose levels were higher and their rates of gestational diabetes were 51 percent higher than in the winter months.

According to the researchers, it's possible that warmer temperatures could affect the composition of circulating blood, increasing blood glucose levels. However, that remains a theory and "further research is needed to explore the significance of these findings," Katsarou's team writes.

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