Could High Temperatures Increase Rates Of Gestational Diabetes?

Exposure to the cold may improve insulin sensitivity in pregnant women.


Up to 9.2% of women develop gestational diabetes during their pregnancy according to the American Diabetes Association. This temporary form of diabetes is easily treatable when caught and managed by both patient and doctor. However, untreated, it puts the lives of mother and baby at risk.

It is one of the most common complications of pregnancy that women must face.

Normally, this health problem develops when hormones produced by the placenta interfere with the mother’s ability to use her own insulin. In some cases, the mother may need up to three times the normal amount of insulin for her body to be able to use sugar in the bloodstream.

Recent research published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal indicates that the outside temperature may have an effect on the development of gestational diabetes.

Rising Temps Indicate Rising Rates Of Diabetes?

Study authors looked at 12 years of data on 555,911 live births in the Greater Toronto Area. They also checked what the average air temperature was for 30 days before the gestational diabetes screening that each mom-to-be received. The study authors tried to limit their analysis to women who had multiple pregnancies they could follow. In total, data on 396,828 women was examined.

What they found was surprising.

When exposed to temperatures of more than 75.2°F, 7.7% of pregnant women developed gestational diabetes. This is compared to just 4.6% of women who were exposed to temperatures equal to or below 14°F. Women were 6% to 9% more likely to develop gestational diabetes with every increase in temperature of 50°F.

The researchers also found that women who were born in cold environments were less likely to develop gestational diabetes compared to those born in warm areas.

This percentage seems small but could have a big impact on large populations. With temperatures increasing worldwide, there might even be a spike in diabetes rates among adults and pregnant women.


What is Gestational Diabetes? URL Link. Accessed May 21, 2017.

Outdoor Air Temperature Linked To Risk Of Developing Gestational Diabetes. URL Link. Accessed May 21, 2017.