Gestational diabetes is a nasty trick the body plays about half way through pregnancy. Just like regular diabetes, the body has difficulty producing sufficient insulin or responding to the insulin that is produced.
Many women carefully monitor their insulin for the remainder of the pregnancy, assuming that life will go back to normal once the pregnancy is over.
It turns out that gestational diabetes may lead to attention problems with the child as soon as just a few months after birth.
Gestational Diabetes May Lead to Attention Problems in Child
A massive study out of Singapore analyzed data regarding mothers and their babies both during pregnancy and after birth. One particular interest was in monitoring attention in babies and gestational diabetes in their mothers.
How did they do this?
First, they looked at attention. The researchers monitored the brain activity of the infants while playing a repetitive sound. The idea to use a repetitive sound is based on decades of habituation research on infants. Habituation is the process of becoming familiar with a stimulus. The brain files away the details of the familiar stimulus so that it can focus on new, more important stimuli.
The repetitive sound in this study would eventually become familiar to the infant, thus reducing brain activity required to analyze it. Then, the researchers introduced a strange and infrequent sound to see how the babies responded (or rather, their brains).
The researchers compared the responses of infants from mothers with gestational diabetes and those without.
They found that babies from the gestational diabetes group spent far more time paying attention to the “familiar” sound. Rather than using the brain to assess more incoming information (unfamiliar sounds), it seems that the brains of the gestational diabetes group lingered on old information.
Essentially, these babies were unable to focus on more important, relevant information. This is basically the tenets of attention deficit disorders.
In an effort to prevent this from happening, professionals are recommending that women prevent gestational diabetes first.
Mothers at Risk for Gestational Diabetes
Many women develop gestational diabetes each year. The following factors significantly increase your risk:
- a BMI above 30
- previously had a baby weighing 10 pounds or more
- previously had gestational diabetes
- one of your family members has diabetes
- from south Asian, Chinese, African-Caribbean, or Middle Eastern descent