- The Washington Times - Monday, June 13, 2005

SAN DIEGO (AP) — Women who develop diabetes during pregnancy give birth to healthier babies if they are treated aggressively, concludes a large new study that helps bolster the case for testing all pregnant women for this condition.

The study, conducted by Australian researchers, is the first to show that treatment can help avoid serious problems at birth.

Although complications are uncommon, they were just one-fourth as common among babies of mothers who were treated aggressively. No babies born to the 490 women receiving more aggressive care died. There were three stillbirths and two other infant deaths among the 510 mothers who received regular care.

The results of the study will be published in the New England Journal of Medicine on Thursday and were presented yesterday at an American Diabetes Association meeting in San Diego.

Gestational diabetes affects 3 percent to 7 percent of pregnant women in the United States, a number that is on the rise because of the growing obesity problem.

Doctors have long wrangled over whether babies would benefit if expectant mothers were tested and treated for gestational diabetes. Previous studies on this topic have led to conflicting conclusions.

An influential doctor’s group, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, backs diabetes screening for all pregnant women. The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, a federal panel that makes recommendations on health issues, has not taken a stand, saying evidence is lacking to rule one way or the other.

Dr. Diana Petitti, vice chairman of the task force, declined to comment specifically on the Australian study, but said the group always considers the latest research in deciding whether to update guidelines.

In an accompanying editorial, Dr. Michael Greene, an obstetrician at Massachusetts General Hospital who had no role in the study, wrote that the latest study ?provides some long-awaited evidence to support the use of screening and treatment for women at risk.?

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