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Study: Baby's Gender Could Affect Mother's Risk Of Developing Diabetes

NEW YORK, NY (CBS) – New research has some interesting findings about gender and gestational diabetes.

The study, which was conducted by researchers at Mt. Sinai, reveals that women who are expecting a boy are at an increased risk of developing diabetes during pregnancy.

According to scientists, the average risk for gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM) is about three or four percent. If women are carrying a male fetus, it appears to be associated "with a modest seven percent increase."

The Mt. Sinai researchers say they studied just over 1,000 pregnant women at Mt. Sinai Hospital and examined the function of beta-cells, or the cells in the pancreas that produce insulin, and the action of insulin in women carrying a male fetus versus a female one.

They say the increased risk could be due to the effect of a boy baby on the mother's ability to produce insulin, which is the main factor associated with developing GDM.

"We know that maternal physiology can affect the fetus, but we didn't know that the baby's physiology can affect the mother's ability to secrete insulin and control blood glucose levels," says lead researcher Dr. Retnakaran. "This finding will not affect practice at centres that screen all pregnant women for GDM but could be important for centres that only screen women based on clinical risk factors for GDM, now that fetal gender emerges as an additional factor to consider. However, overall, the increase in risk is small."

The study is published in the journal Diabetes Care, and scientists say it is important because it might help them come up with new treatments for GDM.

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