Less Than Six Hours of Sleep During Pregnancy Increases Risk of Gestational Diab

Less Than Six Hours of Sleep During Pregnancy Increases Risk of Gestational Diabetes

by Julia Samuel on Oct 23 2017 12:46 PM
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  • Short sleep duration during pregnancy can increase the risk of gestational diabetes.
  • Average sleep duration of less than 6 hours was associated with a 1.7 fold increase in gestational diabetes.
  • Women who have gestational diabetes are at an increased risk for developing type 2 diabetes later.
Lack of sleep among pregnant women may be a contributing factor to the development of gestational diabetes.
In the past twenty years the amount of time spent sleeping in the United States has dropped significantly. Almost a quarter of women and 16 percent of men experiencing insufficient sleep. 

"Links between reduced sleep duration and increased diabetes risk have been reported in several large studies in non-pregnant populations," said Dr. Sirimon Reutrakul, associate professor of endocrinology, diabetes and metabolism in the University of Illinois at Chicago College of Medicine and lead author of the study.

Sleep and Gestational Diabetes

To know the impact of reduced sleep in pregnant women, a meta-analysis of eight studies that included 17,308 pregnant women were assessed.

 The researchers also obtained raw individual participant data from the authors of four additional studies that included measurements of blood sugar levels and measured sleep duration objectively in 287 pregnant women with gestational diabetes for further analysis.

  •  Average sleep duration of less than 6 hours was associated with a 1.7 fold increase in the risk of being diagnosed with gestational diabetes.
  • Those who slept less than 6.25 hours per night had a 2.84 fold increase in risk for having gestational diabetes.
"This is the first meta-analysis to find that both self-reported and objectively measured short sleep duration was associated with elevated blood sugar levels in pregnancy as well as an increased risk for developing gestational diabetes," said Reutrakul. 

Risk of Gestational Diabetes on The Fetus

Gestational diabetes is not caused by a lack of insulin, but by the action of hormones produced during pregnancy that blocks the action of insulin. It occurs in 4% of all pregnancies and is considered as one of the most common metabolic disorders affecting pregnant women.

  1. Congenital malformations including heart defects and defects of the respiratory system, which gives rise to Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome (ARDS). These occurs more in babies born to diabetic mothers.
  2. Intrauterine deaths are more  common  in the diabetic mother as compared to non-diabetic women.
  3. Fetal macrosomia: A large- sized baby with increased muscle mass, increased subcutaneous fat deposition and increased size of the organs.
  4. Hypoglycemia: The baby, after it is born, may have hypoglycemia or low blood sugar levels. This is because the baby’s pancreas has been stimulated to produce more insulin. This over production of insulin may continue for some more time even after delivery. When this happens,  the blood sugar levels in the baby is carefully monitored and feeding adjusted accordingly.
  5. Jaundice:  An increased production of bilirubin, that causes jaundice or yellowing of the skin and the mucous membranes, is  very common in babies born to diabetic mothers.
  6. Risk of Type 2 diabetes:  Studies have shown that the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes later on in life is more in babies born  to  mothers who had gestational diabetes. 
  7. Birth injuries are more common, as there might be difficulty in delivery of large sized infant.
  1. Sirimon Reutrakul, Thunyarat Anothaisintawee, Sharon J. Herring, Bilgay Izci Balserak, Isabelle Marc, Ammarin Thakkinstian. Short Sleep Duration and Hyperglycemia in Pregnancy: Aggregate and Individual Patient Data Meta-Analysis. Sleep Medicine Reviews (2017)


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