Study: Lacking Sleep, Pregnant Latinas Face More Gestational Diabetes


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We know that U.S. Latinas are 2-4 more likely to get gestational diabetes during pregnancy than non-Latinas, which is a serious threat to these women’s health.

But did you know sleep habits impact your risk for gestational diabetes?

What can we do to help?

Why is Gestational Diabetes Problematic?

Gestational diabetes mellitus is a serious health challenge for pregnant women. It increases risk for caesarean birth and hypertensive disorders. It also can increase the risk of complications during pregnancy and delivery.

Still, careful management to maintain normal blood glucose levels can mitigate some of these risks.

How Does Sleep Impact Gestational Diabetes?

Women who average less than 6 hours sleep a night had a 1.7-fold increase in the risk of being diagnosed with gestational diabetes, according to a new study.

Study researchers at the University of Illinois at Chicago College of Medicine examined 17,308 pregnant women and their sleep patterns.

Researchers noted that pregnancy itself can cause poor sleep.

pregnant latina checkup babyFrom trying to find a comfortable sleeping position with a growing belly or round-the-clock nausea, to hormonal changes that fluctuate with each trimester or even those latent anxious thoughts that can keep parents-to-be up late at night, there’s a lot going on at once that can make getting adequate sleep such a challenge for some pregnant women.

Inadequate quality or quantity of sleep may undermine a mother’s daytime function and mood. This can result in problems with attention, concentration, and memory.

Depression also may result. These issues may affect communication and social interactions. For many women, these issues may persist into the first few weeks after delivery, especially because the child’s nighttime feedings may continue the fragmentation of sleep.

The researchers concluded more study is needed on gestational diabetes among sleep-deprived pregnant women. More study also should address whether getting more sleep could ease the severity of gestational diabetes for women who do have it.

How Does This Impact Pregnant Latinas?

In many ways, the finding from this latest study on sleep duration and gestational diabetes is important for Latinas.

Latinas who develop gestational diabetes are at increased risk for developing Type 2 diabetes, according a recent study by Victoria University and the University of Texas at El Paso and a report from Endocrinology Advisor.

Latinas have a 52.5% risk of developing diabetes in their lifetime.

More Latinas are giving birth in the United States at younger ages than other women. So it’s important to check with your doctor before planning a family and understand the other risk factors of gestational diabetes.

What Can We Do to Prevent Gestational Diabetes?

Gestational diabetes isn’t the end of the world. Most women who develop diabetes during pregnancy go on to have healthy babies.

Pregnant girl dressed on the fieldBut it’s still important to make dietary changes and exercise to keep your blood sugar levels under control.

Many groups work to help women with gestational diabetes mellitus and the recommended approaches include:

Unhealthy weight may impact  pregancy and baby’s health, but in another recent study women who lost weight after they were at least nine weeks into their pregnancies did not have fever obstetric complications.

This makes it very important to monitor the glucose levels in the pregnant women with gestational diabetes. Doctors will ask you to regularly check your blood glucose to monitor you and your baby.

Pregnant women’s blood sugar will change throughout the day based on diet and physical activity. Checking your blood glucose will help them and their doctor to determine how their diet and physical activity is affecting your blood glucose levels and if their treatment plan needs to be kept the same or altered.

Also, investigators with Victoria University and the University of Texas at El Paso suggest found that intensive nutritional counseling approaches that promote low-calorie diets are most effective in management blood glucose levels among pregnant Latinas.

“Interventions that are delivered in Spanish and culturally tailored may be more acceptable to participants,” according to the researchers. “More research is needed to develop suitable interventions to improve [gestational diabetes] management among Hispanic women.”

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