Diabetes during pregnancy and glucose intolerance are associated with lower breast milk supply. The findings, published in Breastfeeding Medicine, revealed that maternal glucose intolerance can have a negative impact on lactation.
Insulin resistance is common among obese women and obesity is also a risk factor for poor lactation, but this is the first study to explore maternal diabetes as a risk factor for poor lactation.
Lead author Sarah Riddle said, “This study shows the importance of further research to determine how maternal glucose intolerance may impede lactation, so that targeted therapies may be developed to increase milk supply. There are limited evidence-based strategies for helping mothers to increase milk supply, and low milk supply is often cited as the reason for new mothers to stop breastfeeding earlier than planned.”
The study looked at existing electronic medical files of 541 women. Mothers diagnosed with low breast milk supply but not other lactating problems were compared to mothers without any problems or low breast milk supply. Nearly 15 percent in the low breast milk group had a history of diabetes, while only six percent of those with lactation problems but not low breast milk had maternal diabetes.
An alternative study found that preeclampsia and gestational hypertension are associated with a higher risk for future diabetes. The researchers also found that when gestational diabetes is combined with preeclampsia or gestational diabetes, the risk of future diabetes increased 13-fold.
The findings are important as they highlight new risk factors for future diabetes, and women should be screened for diabetes if they have a history of preeclampsia and gestational hypertension.
The study included 1,010,068 pregnant women where 22,933 had preeclampsia, 27,605 had gestational hypertension, and 1,476 had gestational diabetes. During the follow-up period, 35,077 women developed diabetes.
The researchers found a 1.95 times greater risk of future diabetes in women with gestational hypertension alone, 2.08 times higher in women with preeclampsia, and 12.77 times higher in women with gestational diabetes.
The authors said, “In this large, population-based study, we found that the presence of either preeclampsia or gestational hypertension during pregnancy were strong predictors for the development of diabetes years following the pregnancy, and the presence of preeclampsia or gestational hypertension in a woman with a history of gestational diabetes, increased the risk of diabetes over and above that observed with gestational diabetes alone.”
“These findings have important implications for maternal health, especially given the increase in obesity-related diseases… A history of preeclampsia or gestational hypertension during pregnancy should alert clinicians to the need for preventative counseling and more vigilant screening for diabetes,” the authors concluded.
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