Hotter Outside Temps Linked To Higher Rates Of Gestational Diabetes

Women exposed to colder temperatures while pregnant had a lower incidence of gestational diabetes than pregnant women exposed to hotter temps, according to research recently published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal.

The study examined data from 555,911 births involving 396,828 women who were pregnant during warmer and colder seasons of the year.

Among those exposed to very cold average temperatures (-10 C/14 F and below) during the 30 days prior to a gestational diabetes (GD) screening, the rate of GD was 4.6 percent. For those exposed to hot average temperatures (above 24 C, 75.2 F) the GD incidence was 7.7 percent. The investigators also found that for each 10 degree Celsius temperature increase, the likelihood of developing GD rose six to nine percent.

Lead author of this study, Dr. Gillian Booth said these findings are likely owed to the way humans store various types of fat.

“Many would think that in warmer temperatures, women are outside and more active, which would help limit the weight gain in pregnancy that predisposes a woman to gestational diabetes,” said Dr. Booth. “However, it fits a pattern we expected from new studies showing that cold exposure can improve your sensitivity to insulin, by turning on a protective type of fat called brown adipose tissue.”

The research also revealed a lower incidence of GD among women born in cooler geographical areas, than those born in hotter regions. When women born in colder climates were exposed to cold temps during the 30 days prior to a GD screening, their rate of GD was only 3.6 percent; those exposed to hot temps had a 6.3 percent rate. In contrast, women born in hot climates had GD rates of 7.7 and 11.8 percent, respectively.

Should global temperatures continue to climb, these findings suggest an increase in future GD cases worldwide.

“While changes in temperature of this magnitude may lead to a small relative increase in the risk of gestational diabetes, the absolute number of women impacted in Canada and elsewhere may be substantial,” wrote Booth, and colleague Dr. Joel Ray. “This is like the canary in the coal mine for the possible effects of global warming on adult onset diabetes.”

Source: Science Daily
Photo credit: Joe Green

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