Therapies for gestational diabetes and their implications for maternal and offspring health: Evidence from human and animal studies

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Abstract

Obesity prior to and during pregnancy is associated with an increased risk of complications during pregnancy. One of the most common complications of pregnancy is gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM), a condition characterized by hyperglycemia and insulin resistance that is diagnosed in the third trimester of pregnancy. GDM predisposes both mothers and their children to increased obesity and cardiometabolic disorders, namely type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Current treatments include lifestyle changes and insulin injections, but oral anti-diabetic drugs such as metformin and glyburide are increasingly prescribed as they do not require injections. However, the long-term implications of therapies for diabetes during pregnancy on mothers and their offspring are not fully understood. In this review, we describe current treatments for GDM, including the first line lifestyle interventions such as exercise as well as insulin, glyburides and metformin. We also review selected natural health products that are sometimes used by individuals during pregnancy that could also be an effective therapeutic in pregnancies characterized by obesity or GDM. We focus on both the short- and long-term effects of treatments on the health of mothers and their offspring. We review the current literature from clinical research and animal studies.

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