Doctors Hopeful New Supplement Could Help Prevent Gestational Diabetes

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For women who are pregnant, a small pilot study suggests that a new nutritional supplement called myo-inositol could help fight the risk of gestational diabetes.

220 pregnant women with a family history of type 2 diabetes (people suffer from high blood sugar because they are unable to store the sugar in cells properly) were selected for the research. Within that selected group, half were given two grams of myo-inositol supplements twice a day along with the recommended amount of folic acid. The other half of participants only received the folic acid from the end of the their first trimester throughout their pregnancy.

The study found that of the women who took myo-inositol, 6% developed gestational diabetes, compared to the 15% who only received folic acid. None of the babies in the myo-inositol group met the overweight criteria, but 7 babies in the non-supplement group did (weighing more than 8 lbs., 13 oz.).

But here is the most shocking result the researchers concluded: Dr. Donald Coustan of the Division of Maternal-Fetal Medicine at Women and Infants Hospital in Rhode Island confirms that researchers still don’t know how the supplement works or if it is even safe.

It looks like doctors and researchers have so much to learn about the drug to determine whether or not it’s safe for women to take during their pregnancies. The results, though, are hopeful that an answer is not far off.

Said Dr. Wanda Nicholson of University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, to Reuters, “the results are promising, but we would need a larger trial and a broader group of women before we could recommend this supplement.”

Women who are overweight, obese or have a history of diabetes are at risk for gestational diabetes, which affects up to 10% of pregnancies in the United States — mothers who have this condition have trouble dealing with carbohydrates, which leads to higher blood sugar.

Lead author of the study, Dr. Rosario D’Anna, of the Department of Obstetrics at University in Messina, Italy, says “undiagnosed and untreated gestational diabetes can cause large babies for the gestational age, which could lead to delivery complications.”

As the number of pregnant women with gestational diabetes continues to rise, doctors fear that without a responsible drug, the number will continue to grow. “There’s really nothing currently recommended to prevent gestational diabetes,” said Dr. Coustan. Currently, women are only encouraged to maintain a healthy weight prior to pregnancy to prevent gestational diabetes.

Do you have any other advice for reducing the risk of gestational diabetes?

Plus, more from The Bump:

What is the Best Diabetes Diet and Exercise for Pregnancy?

Should I Take a Glucose Tolerance Test?

All You Need to Know About Gestational Diabetes