In the US, one in five women will have a pregnancy or childbirth in which they have had diabetes, a study has found.
The findings show that women are more than twice as likely as men to have diabetes as a result of their lifestyle.
Diabetes is an autoimmune condition that damages the pancreas, leading to high blood sugar levels.
In most cases, diabetes is diagnosed when people start taking medication to manage the condition.
Dr Anna Hovland from the University of California, San Francisco, and colleagues compared information from more than 9,000 people in the US and the UK, to find out how many women with diabetes were also having babies.
They found that about a third of women had diabetes and another third had not.
The women with the highest risk of having a baby had more than three times the risk of a baby having diabetes compared with the women with lower risk.
The researchers say women who have diabetes are at increased risk of complications such as low birth weight, high blood pressure, and heart disease.
Diabetes affects around 20 per cent of the world’s population.
Women have a higher risk of the condition if they smoke, drink alcohol or take certain medicines, the researchers say.
‘People are looking at diabetes as just another disease’ The study was published in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology.
Dr Hovlands team said that the number of pregnancies and births with diabetes has increased in the last two decades.
She said: ‘Women have a greater chance of having an infant with diabetes as well as having a newborn with diabetes.
‘We’re finding that women with type 2 diabetes are more at increased risks of pregnancy complications, birth complications, and high birth weight.’
The study looked at data from more, and older, studies of pregnancy outcomes.
Dr Sarah Brown, a medical epidemiologist at the University College London, said: There are many factors that could increase the risk.
‘There are many things that are known to increase the risks of diabetes, such as smoking, being overweight, and having certain medical conditions, like diabetes and high blood pressures,’ she said.
‘Women who have type 2 are also at greater risk of birth complications as well.’
It is important that the focus is not on lifestyle factors but on what is actually happening in the body.’
Dr Hervs said that it was also important to understand that people with diabetes had different metabolic rates.
‘The type of diabetes can be different in women than in men, so it’s important to look at this in terms of a woman’s overall metabolic rate and how she relates to her body, and the way that she metabolises nutrients,’ she added.
‘This is a good place to look to understand the mechanisms that are involved in the different metabolic pathways of diabetes.’
If women are overweight or obese, for example, that can increase their risk of pregnancy and delivery complications, as well.’
Dr Brown added that it is important to talk to women about the risk factors and the potential benefits and risks of lifestyle changes.
‘They need to be aware of the risks, but they also need to understand why they might want to change their lifestyle to prevent pregnancy complications or birth complications,’ she explained.
The study included data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, which is conducted every two years in the UK and is conducted by a consortium of research centres.
About one in three women in the study had type 2 Diabetes.
The average age of women in this cohort was 35 years, compared with 21 years in a previous cohort.
Women in this age group were more likely than men to be smokers, have a family history of diabetes and had diabetes as part of a normal pregnancy.
The data was analysed by a team of researchers from the US National Institutes of Health (NIH), the University at Buffalo, and others.
Dr Brown said: These are important findings because they help us understand why women who are overweight and obese may be more likely or more likely not to have any babies in the first place, and that they can change their diet and exercise to improve their metabolic health.
‘If you can reduce your risk of developing diabetes, this may help to prevent these complications.’
Dr Sarah Hovlander, from the Institute of Reproductive Medicine at University College, London, told BBC News: ‘If we know that these things are associated with a higher chance of diabetes later on, we can use these findings to make interventions for women and men to change the way they live their lives.’
She added that the study has some limitations, because the data is from the late 1980s.
‘Our study was not looking at all of the things that were going on now,’ she told BBC.
‘It’s really important to remember that these are the same women who we are trying to help, so that this is really useful for understanding what women are living with now, and to help identify what might be helpful for women to do now.’
She said it would be important to