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Does early diagnosis of gestational diabetes reduce weight gain?

A recent study suggests that early diagnosis of gestational diabetes reduces pregnancy weight gain during the first trimester and total pregnancy.

Gestational diabetes is a type of diabetes that can occur during the second or third trimester of pregnancy and is usually resolved after birth. Initial screening for gestational diabetes usually occurs between 24 and 28 weeks of pregnancy, which is during the second trimester. However, several medical experts recommend that screening for pregnant women at high risk for diabetes should occur in the first trimester. Pregnant women who are obese or have a prior history of gestational diabetes are at high risk for diabetes.

A recent study, published in Journal of Women’s Health, hypothesized that diagnosis and treatment of gestational diabetes in the first trimester, instead of the second trimester, would lead to lower pregnancy weight gain. The study screened over 5,000 pregnant women between 2010 and 2013. Women, considered to be at a high risk of gestational diabetes were screened during the first trimester, at ten weeks. The rest of the participants were screened between 24 and 28 weeks.

The study reports that women diagnosed with gestational diabetes in the first trimester averaged about 2.4 kg less pregnancy weight gain than those diagnosed during the second trimester. Among obese women, only the group diagnosed with gestational diabetes early in the first trimester had on average a weight gain of 8.1 kg, meeting the Institution of Medicine (IOM) guidelines for overall gestational weight gain of less than 9 kg. Furthermore, obese women diagnosed with gestational diabetes earlier in the pregnancy, were less likely to exceed the guidelines. The findings suggest that early diagnosis of gestational diabetes during the first trimester may be beneficial for optimizing pregnancy weight gain.

According to the researchers, these findings can potentially have a high impact on public health and fill an important research gap about diagnosing gestational diabetes earlier in  pregnancy. Since the majority of obese women exceed the weight gain guidelines, the researchers suggest that more investigation is needed on early interventions to maintaining a healthy weight gain in all obese women at high risk for diabetes.

Future research will involve examining the mechanisms by which diagnosis and treatment can potentially lead to lesser weight gain in pregnant women, diagnosed earlier in the first trimester as well as look into whether similar treatment approaches can benefit a wider population of high-risk women.

Written by Ranjani Sabarinathan, MSc                                                                                      


Teresa A. Hillier, Keith K. Ogasawara, Kathryn L. Pedula, Kimberly K. Vesco, Caryn E.S. Oshiro, and Jan L. Van Marter. Journal of Women’s Health. ahead of print.

Earlier gestational diabetes diagnosis, less weight gain. (2020, May 11). Retrieved from

Gestational diabetes fact sheet –

Image by Regina Petkovic from Pixabay 



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