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TN's High Diabetes Rate Raises Concerns for Pregnant Women

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Women who test positive for gestational diabetes must monitor their blood sugar during pregnancy, but experts say the risks don't stop there. (Twenty20)
Women who test positive for gestational diabetes must monitor their blood sugar during pregnancy, but experts say the risks don't stop there. (Twenty20)
 By Stephanie CarsonContact
October 29, 2018

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – National Diabetes Month starts this week, and more than 1 in 10 Tennesseans is diabetic.

At 11 percent, the state has one of the highest rates of diabetes in the country, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

While diabetes can affect people of all age groups, experts are particularly concerned about gestational diabetes in women, or abnormal blood sugar levels during pregnancy.

An increasing body of research indicates the problem doesn't stop when the baby is born, says Dr. Griffin Rodgers, director of the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases at the National Institutes of Health, so it's important to take precautions.

"Women with a history of gestational diabetes can take modest but important steps for themselves and their children to prevent or delay the onset of Type 2 diabetes,” he advises. “Keep up healthy habits. See a dietician or a diabetic educator to guide them."

Rodgers says about half of all women who had gestational diabetes will develop Type 2 diabetes later in life, and their children have a greater chance of becoming obese.

He recommends women and their families work to maintain healthy weights, with good nutrition and daily exercise.

Rodgers says the CDC doesn't keep specific data for gestational diabetes, but it stands to reason that with a high rate of diabetes in Tennessee, the trend would include pregnant moms.

"In general, there's a fairly good correlation between the prevalence of the disease in the state and the likelihood that the women in the state would follow that rate," he states.

Diabetes can lead to such serious health problems as heart disease, blindness, kidney disease and limb amputations.

Experts believe as many as 161,000 Tennesseans have diabetes, but are un-diagnosed.

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