People genetically at risk of developing gestational diabetes can prevent a diagnosis by adopting a healthy lifestyle, academics have claimed.
Scientists from the University of Helsinki have created a genetic risk score to detect people at risk of developing gestational and postpartum diabetes.
According to research, those with a higher score are more likely to benefit from dietary advice and healthier lifestyle changes.
Gestational diabetes is high blood sugar that develops during pregnancy and usually goes away after delivery.
The condition develops when a woman’s body cannot produce enough insulin to meet her extra needs during pregnancy.
Gestational diabetes can cause problems for mother and baby during pregnancy and after birth, but the risks can be reduced if the condition is identified early and managed well.
During the study, the team of academics looked at whether lifestyle changes combat gestational diabetes in women most at risk of developing the disease.
They analyzed whether the participants had certain genetic variants known to trigger the development of type 2 diabetes.
As part of the trial, each participant participated in a physical activity program and received nutritional counseling throughout her pregnancy and for one year after birth.
Emilia Huvinen, specialist in obstetrics and gynecology, said: “Gestational diabetes as well as prediabetes and diabetes one year postpartum were also more common in people with higher scores.”
“Based on our research, intensified lifestyle interventions only benefited women at the highest genetic risk of developing type 2 diabetes.”
She added: “Our study offers a possible explanation for the conflicting results of previous studies looking at the prevention of gestational diabetes so far.”
“It is important to realize that in the case of diabetes, our genetic heritage does not determine our future.”
She concluded: “With the help of a healthy lifestyle, you can reverse the effect of a high genetic risk for diabetes.”
The research has been published in the journal Diabetologia.