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Originally published October 24 2008

Gum Disease May Cause Gestational Diabetes in Expectant Mothers

by David Gutierrez, staff writer

(NaturalNews) Pregnant women with periodontal (gum) disease may be at a higher risk of developing gestational diabetes than women with healthier gums, according to a study conducted by researchers from the New York University (NYU) College of Dentistry and published in the Journal of Dental Research.

Gestational diabetes occurs when a non-diabetic woman develops insulin resistance and high blood sugar levels solely for the course of her pregnancy. While the condition normally dissipates with the end of pregnancy, it has been linked with an increased risk of complications for infants such as abnormal birth weight, respiratory distress syndrome, high red blood cell mass, and low blood sugar, calcium and magnesium levels.

Later in life, children born from pregnancies involving gestational diabetes are at a higher risk for obesity and Type 2 diabetes. Women who have experienced gestational diabetes likewise have a higher risk of eventually developing Type 2 diabetes.

In the current study, researchers studied 256 pregnant women at Bellevue Hospital Center in New York City. They found that the 22 women who developed gestational diabetes had significantly more gum inflammation and higher levels of bacteria in their gums than the women who did not develop the condition.

The causes of gestational diabetes are not known, although some scientists believe that it is caused by hormones related to pregnancy. Likewise, the link to gum disease is unclear. The researchers suggested that the inflammation caused by gum disease might interfere with proper insulin function, thus predisposing women to gestational diabetes.

The researchers recommended that pregnant women and those planning to become pregnant visit a dentist, particularly women from groups at high risk of gestational diabetes.

Women of Asian, Native American and Latina descent are at higher risk of developing gestational diabetes than women in any other ethnic groups.

Eighty percent of the participants in the NYU study were Latina.

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