Tuesday, 31 August 2010

Diabetes, Yoga and Halle Berry

Diabetes, Yoga and Halle Berry

Diabetes mellitus, often referred to as diabetes, is a long-term health condition, develops due to the disordered metabolism and results into abnormally high blood sugar levels (hyperglycaemia).

Diabetes can cause heart disease, stroke, amputations, kidney failure, blindness etc and it can remain undetected for years.

There are two types of diabetes: Type 1 and Type 2.

Type 1 diabetes develops due to a diminished production of insulin.
Type 2 diabetes develops due to resistance to insulin effects and is mostly associated with obesity.

However the good news is that Type 2 diabetes which is associated with obesity and makes up around 90% of all diabetes can be controlled.

When Halle Berry was diagnosed with diabetes she went through dramatic diet change. She started to eat fresh vegetables, fresh fish, pasta and cut out red meat.

Halle also tries to lead a stress-free lifestyle and became a regular yoga practitioner. She practices yoga daily which helps her to release stress and brings the feeling of tranquillity.

By taking up yoga the quality of life can remarkably improve. Daily practice of yoga can help to reduce the stress hormones, bring
feeling of relaxation and at the same time can also help in case of diabetes, especially type 2.

Research has shown that regular yoga practice can result in significant changes in most of the parameters of the metabolic syndrome including; waist circumference reduction, lowering in systolic blood pressure, reduction in fasting blood glucose level and HDL ‘good’ cholesterol increased.

The major reasons for the lifestyle diseases such as diabetes, cancer etc in the western world is the unhealthy food such as the non-vegetarian fast food and sedentary life style.

Britain’s diabetes population has reached almost 2.5 million. Diabetes UK chief executive Douglas Smallwood said the figures were ‘truly alarming’.

Human beings are designed to stay healthy and not to die by lifestyle disease such as cancer, heart attack and diabetes.

Diabetes is certainly one of the biggest health challenges facing the world today. Surprisingly the whole medical system is focussed on curing the diseases rather than in the prevention.

Though we need the medicines for cure in case the diseases go out of control but if we focus our attention on prevention at the first place then we can certainly stay healthy during our life time with least dependence on medicine.

Maintaining a healthy body is not a rocket science. Our body is made up of food and if we eat healthy vegetarian food and do exercise regularly to keep our stress level under control, we can certainly stay healthy forever.

Halle Berry announced in October 2007 that she was no longer insulin dependent.

Healthy lifestyle which includes vegetarian diet and regular yoga practice can go a long way in preventing and controlling the lifestyle diseases such as diabetes.

Issued in public interest by Subodh Gupta a holistic health consultant and also the author of the book “7 food habits for weight loss forever”.

Subodh Gupta is a celebrity yoga trainer based in London and conducts Yoga, Nutrition, Stress Management and Weight loss sessions.

Monday, 30 August 2010

Sunlight Protects Against Diabetes

Sunlight Protects Against Diabetes

A lack of exposure to sunlight can be a factor in a number of diseases including multiple sclerosis, type-1 diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis and some forms of cancer, a major UK study has concluded.

The study, funded by the Medical Research Council, found that a lack of vitamin D, which interacts with certain genes in the body, is thought to be responsible for affecting the illnesses.

Scientists from Oxford University found that vitamin D directly affects more than 200 genes that affect certain diseases.

One effective method of increasing vitamin D levels is through exposure to the sun.

Saturday, 28 August 2010

Diabetes and Insulin Resistance Linked With Alzheimer's Risk

Diabetes and Insulin Resistance Linked With Alzheimer's Risk

New research from Japan suggests a link between type-2 diabetes and insulin resistance and Alzheimer’s disease.

Scientists with the Kyushu University in Fukuoka, Japan said people with the conditions appear to be at an increased risk of developing plaques in the brain that are associated with Alzheimer’s.

Insulin resistance happens when the hormone becomes less effective in lowering blood sugar. It is the stage right before diabetes.

Lead researcher Dr. Kensuke Sasaki said in a statement that the results of the study are alarming because obesity is a risk factor in type-2 diabetes, and more people in the world are becoming obese.

The study involved 135 people who were, on average, 67 years old. Participants were given several diabetes glucose tests to measure blood sugar levels. The participants were also monitored for Alzheimer’s disease over the next 10 to 15 years. About 16 percent developed the cognitive disorder.

Sasaki and his colleagues found that people who scored abnormally on three blood sugar control tests had an increased risk of developing plaques. Plaques were found in 72 percent of the participants with insulin resistance and 62 percent with no indication of insulin resistance.

A report on the study is published in the journal Neurology.

Friday, 27 August 2010

Eating Grapefruit Could Help Treat Diabetes

Eating Grapefruit Could Help Treat Diabetes

Grapefruit could hold the key to tackling diabetes, a new study has found.

Naringenin, an antioxidant derived from the bitter flavor of grapefruits and other citrus fruits, may cause the liver to break down fat while increasing insulin sensitivity, a process that naturally occurs during long periods of fasting.

Scientists from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) report that naringenin activates a family of small proteins, called nuclear receptors, causing the liver to break down fatty acids.

In fact, the compound seems to mimic the actions of other drugs, such as the lipid-lowering Fenofibrate and the anti-diabetic Rosiglitazone, offering the advantages of both.

If the results of this study extend to human patients, this dietary supplement could become a staple in the treatment of hyperlipidemia, type-2 diabetes, and perhaps metabolic syndrome.

"It is a fascinating find. We show the mechanism by which naringenin increases two important pharmaceutical targets, PPARa and PPAR?, while blocking a third, LXRa. The results are similar to those induced by long periods of fasting," said Yaakov Nahmias, of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem the paper’s senior author.

Thursday, 26 August 2010

Cinnamon Extract May Reduce Diabetes

Cinnamon Extract May Reduce Diabetes

A water soluble extract of cinnamon, which contains antioxidative compounds, could help reduce risk factors associated with diabetes and heart disease, suggests a new study.

The study was led by U.S. Department of Agriculture ( USDA) chemist Richard Anderson.

For the study, conducted in Ohio, co-author Tim N. Ziegenfuss, now with the Center for Applied Health Sciences based in Fairlawn, Ohio, enrolled volunteers and collected samples.

Twenty-two obese participants with impaired blood glucose values--a condition classified as "prediabetes"--volunteered for the 12-week experimental research study. Prediabetes occurs when cells are resistant to the higher-than-normal levels of insulin produced by the pancreas (in an attempt to help remove elevated glucose levels from blood).

The volunteers were divided randomly into two groups and given either a placebo or 250 milligrams (mgs) of a dried water-soluble cinnamon extract twice daily along with their usual diets.

Blood was collected after an overnight fast at the beginning of the study, after six weeks, and after 12 weeks to measure the changes in blood glucose and antioxidants.

The study demonstrated that the water-soluble cinnamon extract improved a number of antioxidant variables by as much as 13 to 23 percent, and improvement in antioxidant status was correlated with decreases in fasting glucose, according to Anderson.

Only more research will tell whether the investigational study supports the idea that people who are overweight or obese could reduce oxidative stress and blood glucose by consuming cinnamon extracts that have been proven safe and effective.

The study has been published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition.

Wednesday, 25 August 2010

Dementia and Type 2 Diabetes

Dementia and Type 2 Diabetes

Dementia and type 2 diabetes are serious concerns for older adults. Both diseases are becoming epidemics in this country. The Alzheimer’s Association has become a household name, and many people know of someone who has participated in a Memory Walk. Type 2 diabetes is a disease that was once called adult onset diabetes, but that term is no longer used because younger and younger people are developing the disease. In fact, the current generation of children is the only cohort in the history of humankind at risk of not out living their parents because of obesity related diseases.

Being overweight is not good at any age, and it begins to affect the brain. “Being fat has a detrimental impact on the brain,” says Kaiser Permanente research scientist Rachel Whitmer. She is the co-author of a nine-year study of 10,276 people in Northern California that found people who are obese in middle age (body mass index of 30 or more) are 74% more likely to develop dementia than people of healthy weights.

Benefits of exercise

Physical and mental exercise can prevent type 2 diabetes and dementia. Numerous studies have proven that exercise is beneficial when it comes to diabetes. Now researchers are beginning to see the benefits of exercise when it comes to dementia. A study from Seattle Washington found people who exercised at least 3 times per week were less likely to develop dementia than those who were less active. The American Academy of Neurology recently published the result of a study of more than 700 older people in Chicago that concluded, “a cognitive active person in old age was 2.6 times less likely to develop dementia and Alzheimer’s disease than a cognitively inactive person in old age.”

Diabetes and the brain

It’s known that there are cells in the brain that sense blood sugar levels (called glucose-sensing neurons). New research shows that in type II diabetics, at least some of the neurons that are supposed to sense rises in blood sugar aren’t doing their job. Many physicians think of type II diabetes as solely a disease of the body, but we may need to start thinking about it as a disease of the brain as well.

The point is maintaining a healthy body is just as important as maintaining a healthy brain. So when you are between crossword puzzles, start jogging!

Monday, 23 August 2010

Diet Change Could Slow Growth of Diabetes

Diet Change Could Slow Growth of Diabetes

A change in diet may help reverse the growth in the number of people with type two diabetes.

While the number of people with the disease has grown significantly over the past twenty years, researchers say a specific change may help.

British researchers reviewed several studies and discovered that eating one and a half extra servings of green vegetables a day reduces the risk of type two diabetes by 14 percent.

Researchers say vegetables such as spinach, broccoli, arugula and kale help prevent disease because of their high level of antioxidants, vitamin C and magnesium.

Saturday, 21 August 2010

Green Leafy Veggies May Cut Diabetes Risk

Green Leafy Veggies May Cut Diabetes Risk

People who add more green leafy vegetables to their diet may significantly reduce their risk of developing type 2 diabetes, a new study says.

Patrice Carter, a research nutritionist at the University of Leicester, and colleagues reviewed six studies involving more than 220,000 people that focused on the links between fruits and vegetables and type 2 diabetes.

They conclude that eating one and one half servings of green leafy vegetables per day reduces the risk of type 2 diabetes by 14%. However, they also found that eating more fruits and vegetables combined doesn’t seem to affect this risk.

Fruit and Vegetable Intake

Although many studies have found that diets high in fruits and vegetables reduce the risk of heart disease and cancer, many people don’t seem to be getting the message, researchers say.

For example:

  • 86% of adults in the United Kingdom ate less than the recommended five servings of fruits and vegetables per day, according to a 2002 study.
  • 62% ate fewer than three servings.

Eat More Vegetables

The authors say that fruits and vegetables can prevent several chronic diseases, likely because of their antioxidant content.

Spinach and other green leafy veggies may reduce type 2 diabetes risk because of their high concentrations of polyphenols and vitamin C, both of which have antioxidant properties. They also contain magnesium, which may further reduce risk.

They conclude that specific, tailored advice needs to be given to people to encourage them to eat more green leafy vegetables.

Despite mounting evidence, the Leicester researchers’ study has met some mild skepticism.

Another Perspective

Jim Mann, PhD, of the University of Otago in New Zealand, and research assistant Dagfinn Aune from Imperial College London say they are cautious about the results. They say the message of eating more fruits and vegetables should not get lost “in a plethora of magic bullets.”

They say that given the limited number of studies that focused on fruits, vegetables, and type 2 diabetes risk, “it may be too early to dismiss a small reduction in risk for overall fruit and vegetable intake or other specific types of fruits and vegetables, and too early for a conclusion regarding green leafy vegetables.”

But Carter and colleagues seem to be saying that it’s better to err on the side of caution, and that some evidence suggests that green leafy vegetables reduce diabetes risk, even though “the exact mechanisms” are not known.

"The study adds to the evidence that a healthy lifestyle, and in particular green leafy vegetables, can help prevent type 2 diabetes," Carter tells WebMD.

The study is published in the BMJ, formerly known as the British Medical Journal.

Thursday, 19 August 2010

Low Income Tied to Diabetes in Women

Low Income Tied to Diabetes in Women

Low income and education levels are linked to the onset of Type 2 diabetes in Canadian women, says new data released Wednesday by Statistics Canada.

These factors are independent of other well-established diabetes indicators, including excess weight, the federal agency said. The same cannot be said for the onset of diabetes in men.

The data is drawn from the National Population Health Survey, which tracked the health status of more than 17,000 Canadians since 1994-95. The study of diabetes is based on 12,333 of those people who were at least 18 years old in 1994-95.

Wednesday, 18 August 2010

Overweight Kids Risk Weak Bones, Diabetes

Overweight Kids Risk Weak Bones, Diabetes

Overweight children who are at risk for developing diabetes before puberty also face greater odds for having weak bones, a new study indicates.

Researchers at the Medical College of Georgia studied 140 children between the ages of 7 and 11 who got little regular exercise and found that 30% showed signs of poor blood sugar regulation and 4% to 5% less bone mass, which is a measure of bone strength.

The researchers say their new study is the first to suggest a link between weaker bones and childhood risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

Type 2 diabetes, which is associated with inactivity and obesity, is becoming more common in kids. Type 1 diabetes is associated with poor bone health and is thought to be caused by genetic and environmental factors.

First Clue Linking Obesity to Fractures

Norman Pollock, PhD, a bone biologist at Medical College of Georgia’s Georgia Prevention Institute, says the new study “provides the first clue linking childhood obesity to skeletal fractures."

“While overweight children may have more bone mass than normal weight kids, it may not be big or strong enough to compensate for their larger size,” Pollock says in a news release.

It’s an oversimplification, says Pollock, a professor of nutrition at the Medical College of Georgia, to assert that everyone who is overweight has weak bones, and the phenomenon found in the study may have more to do with how fat is distributed throughout the body.

People with prediabetes tend to have more fat around their abdominal areas called visceral fat, a type of fat found deep in the belly that is linked to cardiovascular disease as well as diabetes, the researchers say.

In the study, published in the Journal of Bone and Mineral Research, greater amounts of visceral fat were associated with lower bone mass, while more body fat overall was associated with higher bone mass.

The Importance of Fighting Abdominal Fat

“Taken together, it seems that excessive abdominal fat may play a key role linking prediabetes to lower bone mass,” Pollock says.

“Our greatest window of opportunity to enhance bone strength and ultimately reduce the risk of osteoporosis is during childhood, before the capacity to build bone mass diminishes,” Pollock says. “One of the best things you can do for bone development and general health is exercise.”

Behavior Changes Can Head Off Problems

Catherine Davis, PhD, a clinical health psychologist at the Georgia Prevention Institute, says kids have time to make positive changes that will reduce their future risk for developing diabetes and weak bones.

“If you could patent exercise as a drug, somebody would be really, really rich,” she says in the news release.

They also say parents should pay close attention to the diet and eating behaviors of their children as preventive measures for diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and reduced bone mass.

New Diabetes Drug Inspired By Migrating Birds

New Diabetes Drug Inspired By Migrating Birds

Anthony Cincotta, Ph.D. looked at a migrating bird and let his imagination fly. The result, after decades of research, is a FDA-approved drug for type 2 diabetes called Cycloset. It’s a new version of bromocriptine, which has long been prescribed at higher doses for Parkinson’s disease and other disorders. Unlike its parent drug, however, Cycloset is a quick-release pill taken within two hours of waking.

It works in a completely different way than other diabetes drugs. A morning dose triggers a surge of a brain chemical called dopamine. That appears to reset a biological clock that influences metabolism and blood sugar levels, says Cincotta, president and chief scientific officer of VeroScience, the Tiverton, Rhode Island maker of Cycloset. “It turns out that the master control of metabolism is the brain.”

A year-long clinical study of 3,070 diabetics found that 39 percent of those taking Cycloset met the recommended blood sugar goal, compared with 11 percent of patients taking a placebo, the manufacturer reports. What’s more, the Cycloset users had a 42 percent drop in heart attack and stroke risk. The drug is the first to be approved under new FDA rules requiring better proof that diabetes therapies are heart-safe.

The “aha moment” that sparked the drug occurred 30 years ago when Cincotta was part of a Louisiana State University team of scientists studying the metabolism of the white-throated sparrow. They discovered that sparrows aren’t such birdbrains after all. To fatten up for migration, birds go into a pre-diabetic state—and rapidly double or even quadruple their body fat.

“That means birds have a biological clock that predicts seasons when food will be scarce,” says Cincotta. “They become obese and insulin resistant—a hallmark of diabetes—at precisely the right time to survive the stress of annual migration, then reverse the process in the spring so they become lean and non-diabetic when food is plentiful.”

Many other species, from certain fish to hibernating bears, have evolved similar biological clocks, prompting Cincotta to wonder if humans might have them too. While it’s common for people to develop obesity and diabetes, our bodies aren’t very good at reversing these conditions, which have hit epidemic levels.

The researchers mapped seasonal changes in the birds’ brain chemicals and learned that dopamine was the main driver of the seasonal clock. “If we pumped up dopamine, we could change a pre-diabetic winter animal into a non-diabetic spring animal, regardless of the time of year,” says Cincotta. By developing Cycloset—named because it seems to help set a daily metabolic cycle–he adds, “we were trying to copy Mother Nature’s well-crafted timing mechanism.”

Tuesday, 17 August 2010

The High Cost Of Diabetes

The High Cost Of Diabetes

Although an estimated 7.8 percent of Americans have been diagnosed with diabetes, patients with this metabolic disease rack up 23 percent of hospital costs nationwide, a new federal analysis finds. Their collective hospital bill in 2008, the most recent year for which data were available: almost $83 billion.

The average hospital stay for someone with diabetes averages roughly a day longer (5.3 days) than in someone free of the disease. And that stay costs about $10,940 — or roughly $2,200 more than the average for people without the disease, according to Taressa Fraze and her colleagues at the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. Her group has synopsized its findings in an August statistical brief issued by their agency, a division of the Department of Health and Human Services.

Only about one in 14 hospital stays identified diabetes as the primary cause for a patient's admission. Many people were instead hospitalized for conditions that could — and probably were — fostered by diabetes, such as impaired circulation or heart disease. Or patients may have landed in the hospital with conditions (such as poor wound healing) that had been exacerbated by their disorder.

Indeed, Fraze’s group observes, circulatory disorders — congestive heart failure, hardening of the arteries, heart attacks, nonspecific chest pain and abnormal pacing of heart beats — constitute five of the top 10 reasons for people with diabetes to be hospitalized.

The new analysis finds that people with diabetes also tend to have an average of 2.6 additional and potentially complicating illnesses — twice the number typically seen in people without the disorder. Chief among these additional conditions is high blood pressure, followed by fluid and electrolyte disorders, chronic pulmonary disease, anemia, kidney failure and obesity.

Rates of hospitalization for diabetics differs by income bracket, with the most well-heeled patients being admitted at a rate of 1,762 per 100,000 — a little more than half the rate typical of the poorest diabetics. Hospitalization rates also vary by region, with the highest prevalence in the South and Northeast, and lowest in the West.

Everyone pays the cost of these hospitalizations through tax dollars (for Medicare, which covered 60 percent of diabetics’ hospitalizations in 2008) and higher premiums for private insurance. So it behooves all of us to help fight the development of this disease within our own households (through exercise, weight management and healthy diets) and to encourage it in older at-risk family and friends.

And if someone we know is diagnosed with the disease, we must remind them to remain vigilant so that they can catch complications early. I have an otherwise robust diabetic family member who ignored a tiny toe infection, last year, and ended up hospitalized on and off for the better part of 6 months with IV-antibiotics and near-daily wound treatment.

His costs were astronomical, although paid almost entirely by insurance and Medicare. So for him, the direct fiscal costs were not an issue. But being laid up for half a year by what initially seemed an inconsequential infection stunned him and frightened his wife and kids.

Because most people with diabetes don’t know it, both the medical community and the public need to reach out and encourage monitoring for hints of the disease. And we must all encourage assiduous monitoring for infections and other co-morbidities among those we know whose bodies no longer remain sensitive to blood sugar levels.

With health care costs spiraling out of control, here is one way we can all work to control them — and keep diabetic friends and family at home and symptomfree.

Monday, 16 August 2010

Brain Surgery May Affect Diabetes Symptoms

Brain Surgery May Affect Diabetes Symptoms

A particular type of brain surgery may lead to improvements in treating the onset and progression of Type 2 diabetes, a study suggests.

Surgery on patients with cranial nerve disease to decompress and reposition an artery pressing on the medulla oblongata of the brain had the unexpected result of improving diabetes symptoms, an article in the journal Surgical Neurology International said Thursday.

A chronic disease marked by high levels of glucose in the blood, Type 2 diabetes can result in serious cardiovascular, vision and renal problems, amputations from circulation problems and even death.

A resistance to insulin, which the body needs to effectively utilize glucose for energy, characterizes Type 2 diabetes.

The pancreas, involved in the production of insulin, is among the body organs whose functions are influenced by the medulla oblongata.

In the surgery, called microvascular decompression, the artery is repositioned and a protective pad is placed between it and the nerves.

At least one diabetes expert says he is skeptical.

"It sounds very far-fetched to me," Dr. Vijay Bahl, chief of endocrinology and metabolism at UPMC medical center in Pittsburgh, says.

"We know the brain controls blood sugar ... and other neurotransmitters like dopamine ... but the decompression of a blood vessel [as a treatment] just doesn't sound real."

Saturday, 14 August 2010

Gwynedd Family Back Charter for Young Diabetics

Gwynedd Family Back Charter for Young Diabetics

The family of a young diabetic patient from Gwynedd are backing a new children's charter for the condition.

Diabetes UK is warning that some youngsters with the illness are experiencing bullying, discrimination and isolation.

Eric Williams, from Blaenau Ffestiniog, said he knew nothing about diabetes when his daughter Anna, nine, was diagnosed when she was three.

The charity is urging people to sign a petition backing the charter.

Dai Williams, national director for Diabetes UK Cymru, said: "It is unacceptable that some children are made to feel different and isolated and there is a lot of misunderstanding and ignorance that can lead to bullying or discrimination.

"The emotional impact of diabetes on children's wellbeing is a very serious issue and it can influence how well they manage their diabetes.

"Without proper management diabetes can lead to serious health complications in the future, such as blindness, heart disease, stroke, kidney disease and amputation."

Launching itsLaunching its children's charter, the charity said one of the main focuses was emotional wellbeing.

It said 87% of the young people it had spoken to as it drew up the charter had never seen a psychologist.

The charity said that this was despite the best current clinical guidelines recognising that young people with diabetes are vulnerable to emotional problems.

Insulin injections

There are 1,400 youngsters in Wales diagnosed with type-1 diabetes, including Eric Williams's daughter Anna, who relies on insulin injections to keep her alive.

"I felt a little bit sad as I had to stay in hospital for a while," she said as she recalled the first days following the diagnosis.

"It was a bit scary, but I felt a little bit happy too as my auntie and uncle bought me presents.

"Now I find diabetes a bit hard but I am getting used to it.

"When I go to school my friends have lots of things in their lunch box like crisps and sometimes I want some but I can't always have it. It can make me feel left out.

"Sometimes when I am at school and my blood levels are low my friends say I am supposed to run when I'm meant to sit down. It can be hard explaining."

Mr Williams, 40, who runs martial arts classes, would like more support for families and children at diagnosis.

He said: "When she was diagnosed I felt that there was no light at the end of the tunnel.

Deep end'

"We didn't know what was going on and we knew nothing about diabetes and the symptoms.

"It was like we were thrown into the deep end with concrete boots on and didn't know how to swim. I kept thinking 'This is it for the rest of her life'.

"I asked the doctor if he could take my pancreas for her but he told me it didn't work like that.

"As a parent you want to do your best for your kids and I felt a sense of helplessness that I couldn't do anything."

Friday, 13 August 2010

Decreasing Diabetes and Depression May Reduce Dementia

Decreasing Diabetes and Depression May Reduce Dementia

The incidence of dementia and mild cognitive impairment can be decreased by removing risk factors such as diabetes and depression, according to a new prospective cohort study.

In addition, increasing crystallized intelligence (influenced by education and continual learning as an adult) and the consumption of fruits and vegetables seem to have a greater impact than modifying genetic risk. However, these factors are more difficult to implement as the levels of exposure to which they provide protective effects are unknown, note the researchers.

"These risk factors have been highlighted by previous epidemiological research, but this is the first study of comparative benefit, estimating the relative advantages of elimination of various risk factors," write lead study author Karen Ritchie, MD, senior research director at the French National Institute of Medical Research in Montpelier, France, and professor of neuroepidemiology at Imperial College London in the United Kingdom, and colleagues.

"Although causal relations cannot be concluded with certainty, [our] study suggests priorities that may inform public health programs," add the study authors. "Diabetes and perhaps also depression (on the assumption that causality can be established such that it is clearly shown to be a risk factor and not just a disease prodrome) should be the principal targets of future population-based health prevention programs.

"The clinical message is that from young adulthood, [we should] try to prevent patients from being exposed to insulin dependence before it becomes diabetes and treat depression when it appears — and not take it lightly," Dr. Ritchie told Medscape Medical News. In addition, "it may not be a cause of Alzheimer's disease, but associated inflammation and cortisol-related damage may [also] exacerbate underlying pathologies."

The study was published online August 5 in BMJ.

A Pandemic of Dementia

According to the researchers, dementia is predicted to increase by 100% between 2001 and 2020 in developed countries and by 300% during the same period in China, India, and other South Asian and Western Pacific countries.

"In the face of a pandemic of dementia, even small reductions in incidence, or delaying the age of onset, are likely to have significant effects on prevalence and the enormous associated public health burden," they write.

Although "multiple potentially modifiable clinical and environmental risk factors for dementia have been identified from [past] population studies ... interventional epidemiology has been relatively neglected," explain the study authors.

"Historically, even when we do not know the cause of a disease, we can reduce the numbers of new cases by identifying risk factors — that is, conditions which seem to increase the probability of becoming ill and then advising the public to avoid these risks," noted Dr. Ritchie. "But which risk factors should we target?"

For this study, the investigative team identified a list of common, potentially modifiable dementia risk factors and divided them into 3 groups: sociodemographic (including education and ethnic differences), clinical (including polymorphisms of the apolipoprotein E [ApoE] gene/ε4 allele, vascular factors, drug use, and a history of depression, asthma, and repeated exposure to herpes), and environmental and lifestyle (including cognitive activities, diet, consumption of alcohol and caffeine, and nicotine intake).

They then examined data from a cohort of 1433 participants in the Esprit study, a neuropsychiatric trial that enrolled patients between 1999 and 2001. These patients were all from Montpellier, France, and older than 65 years (mean ± SD baseline age, 72.5 ± 5.1 years).

The participants were examined by a neurologist to determine possible dementia and/or mild cognitive impairment at baseline and at 2, 4, and 7-year follow-up.

In addition, a standardized interview on sociodemographic and clinical factors, the Neale adult reading test (considered to be a measure of crystallized intelligence), and nutritional questionnaires were administered at all study periods. Blood pressure and blood samples were also taken.

Finally, depressive symptoms were assessed by the Center for Epidemiological Studies depression scale, and current major depressive episodes were diagnosed with the MINI neuropsychiatric examination.

Risk Factors Determined

At the end of the study, the researchers found 405 incident cases of dementia and/or mild cognitive impairment.

When the candidate risk factors were examined, significant associations of incidence were found for low education, crystallized intelligence (through the Neale adult reading test score, depression, stroke, diabetes, ApoE ε4 allele, ischemic heart disease, head injury, caffeine consumption, exposure to anesthesia, and fruit and vegetable consumption.

The final multivariate model retained crystallized intelligence, depression, ApoE ε4 allele, fruit and vegetable consumption, and diabetes.

Table. Significant Risk Factors for Dementia, Multivariate Model

Factor Population-Attributable Fraction (95% CI), %
Crystallized intelligence 18.11 (10.91 – 25.42)
Depression 10.31 (3.66 – 17.17)
ApoE ε4 allele 7.11 (2.44 – 11.98)
Fruit and vegetable consumption 6.46 (0.15 – 13.06)
Diabetes 4.88 (1.87 – 7.98)

CI = confidence interval

The study authors note that their analyses included treatment for depression and diabetes, noting that "although treatment may have eliminated symptoms and reduced risk through decreasing length of exposure, the person [was] exposed to all the underlying negative biological effects associated with the disease state that may be linked to the etiology of dementia, such as inflammation, increased permeability of the blood-brain barrier, damage to white matter, and raised cortisol concentrations.

"In this context, the corollary of our population attributable fraction analyses in terms of public health interventions is that these disorders should not so much be treated as prevented from occurring at all," summarize the study authors. "This would imply targeting and monitoring of people at high risk and introducing preventive treatment where feasible."

Highlights a Need

"This was a very interesting study that confirmed some of what is already known in the literature, which is that depression is associated with subsequent development of dementia — probably both Alzheimer's and vascular dementia," Wayne Katon, MD, professor and vice chair in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at the University of Washington School of Medicine in Seattle, told Medscape Medical News.

"Also, multiple studies have shown that diabetes itself is a risk, particularly for vascular dementia but perhaps for Alzheimer's as well," added Dr. Katon, who recently performed a study of almost 4000 diabetics patients, showing that those with depression had a 2.7-fold higher risk of developing dementia than did those with diabetes alone. He was not involved with this study.

Dr. Katon noted that the unique part of this trial was "the wide range of variables" examined. "The strength of this study is that it's longitudinal and really has a more comprehensive list of both socioeconomic and clinical variables than do prior studies. Another strength was that [the investigators] tried, based on their findings, to determine where we should target our screenings and treatment for preventative programs.

"Overall, I'm impressed with this study," he said, but warned that he is concerned that "we're in the middle of a worldwide obesity epidemic.

"This means we're going to have a dramatic increase in the rate of type 2 diabetes over the next 5 to 20 years, which then means we're going to have significantly more rather than less dementia, if the findings in this article hold true. It's going to take a tremendous public health approach to decrease the rates of obesity and therefore type 2 diabetes. And I think studies like this can really help highlight this need," concluded Dr. Katon.

Thursday, 12 August 2010

Retina Damage Common Among Older Diabetes Patients

Retina Damage Common Among Older Diabetes Patients

CDC researchers estimate that 28.5% of U.S. diabetes patients over age 40 have diabetic retinopathy, an eye disorder in which the blood vessels of the retina are damaged by diabetes. CDC researchers also reported that 4.4% of the U.S. population is estimated to have vision-threatening retinopathy, which, if left untreated, can lead to blindness.

The findings suggest a need for more comprehensive eye care, particularly among patients with diabetes who are at risk for retinopathy, the researchers report. Their study results are published in the Aug. 11 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Eight percent of the U.S. population is estimated to have diabetes, but CDC researchers note there have been few studies documenting the prevalence of diabetic retinopathy. “Investigating the prevalence of diabetic retinopathy is important because it is a key indicator of systemic diabetic microvascular complications, and as such, a sentinel indicator of the impact of diabetes,” writes the research team led by Xinzhi Zhang MD, PhD.According to the authors, diabetic retinopathy is the leading cause of new cases of legal blindness in the U.S. among people aged 20 to 74, and treating diabetes-related blindness costs about $500 million per year.

Researchers analyzed data on 1,006 people who participated in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey 2005-2008. Participants with gestational diabetes, severe visual impairment, or eye infections were excluded from the analysis.

The study, based on data of more than 1,000 diabetes patients, found:

  • There were gender differences: 31.6% men and 25.7% of women over age 40 who have diabetes are estimated to have diabetic retinopathy.
  • There were also racial/ethnic differences: 38.8% of non-Hispanic blacks were estimated to have diabetic retinopathy, 34% of Mexican-Americans, and 26.4% of non-Hispanic whites. These differences were also true for more advanced diabetic retinopathy; 9.3% of non-Hispanic blacks were estimated to have vision-threatening diabetic retinopathy, 7.3% of Mexican-Americans, and 3.2% of non-Hispanic whites.
  • Interestingly, age was not a major factor among the study group; 4.1% of people aged 40 to 64 were estimated to have diabetic retinopathy, compared with 5.1% of people aged 65 and older, although the more advanced form of the disease was more common among diabetes patients aged 65 and older than in people aged 40 to 64.
  • Male sex was independently associated with diabetic retinopathy as well as having diabetes longer, a higher systolic blood pressure, and higher blood sugar levels.

“These estimates provide policy makers updated information for use in planning eye care services and rehabilitation,” the authors write. “With the aging of the population and the increasing proportion of the population with diverse racial/ethnic heritage, the number of cases of diabetic retinopathy and vision-threatening diabetic retinopathy will likely increase. Furthermore, the need for eye care and for culturally appropriate interventions that can reduce disparity and improve access to eye care among diverse populations is also likely to increase.”

Wednesday, 11 August 2010

Shining A Light On Diabetes

Shining A Light On Diabetes

Device from MIT’s Spectroscopy Lab could help diabetic patients monitor their blood glucose levels without finger pricks.

People with type 1 diabetes must keep a careful eye on their blood glucose levels: Too much sugar can damage organs, while too little deprives the body of necessary fuel. Most patients must prick their fingers several times a day to draw blood for testing.

To minimize that pain and inconvenience, researchers at MIT’s Spectroscopy Laboratory are working on a noninvasive way to measure blood glucose levels using light.

First envisioned by Michael Feld, the late MIT professor of physics and former director of the Spectroscopy Laboratory, the technique uses Raman spectroscopy, a method that identifies chemical compounds based on the frequency of vibrations of the bonds holding the molecule together. The technique can reveal glucose levels by simply scanning a patient’s arm or finger with near-infrared light, eliminating the need to draw blood.

Spectroscopy Lab graduate students Ishan Barman and Chae-Ryon Kong are developing a small Raman spectroscopy machine, about the size of a laptop computer, that could be used in a doctor’s office or a patient’s home. Such a device could one day help some of the nearly 1 million people in the United States, and millions more around the world, who suffer from type 1 diabetes.

Researchers in the Spectroscopy Lab have been developing this technology for about 15 years. One of the major obstacles they have faced is that near-infrared light penetrates only about half a millimeter below the skin, so it measures the amount of glucose in the fluid that bathes skin cells (known as interstitial fluid), not the amount in the blood. To overcome this, the team came up with an algorithm that relates the two concentrations, allowing them to predict blood glucose levels from the glucose concentration in interstitial fluid.

However, this calibration becomes more difficult immediately after the patient eats or drinks something sugary, because blood glucose soars rapidly, while it takes five to 10 minutes to see a corresponding surge in the interstitial fluid glucose levels. Therefore, interstitial fluid measurements do not give an accurate picture of what’s happening in the bloodstream.

To address that lag time, Barman and Kong developed a new calibration method, called Dynamic Concentration Correction (DCC), which incorporates the rate at which glucose diffuses from the blood into the interstitial fluid. In a study of 10 healthy volunteers, the researchers used DCC-calibrated Raman spectroscopy to significantly boost the accuracy of blood glucose measurements — an average improvement of 15 percent, and up to 30 percent in some subjects.

The researchers described the new calibration method and results in the July 15 issue of the journal Analytical Chemistry. In addition to Feld, Barman and Kong, authors include Ramachandra Rao Dasari, associate director of the Spectroscopy Lab, and former postdoctoral associate Gajendra Pratap Singh.

Michael Morris, professor of chemistry at the University of Michigan, says the group appears to have solved a problem that has long stymied researchers. “Getting optical glucose measurements of any sort is something people have been trying to do since the 1980s,” says Morris, who was not involved in this study. “Usually people report that they can get good measurements one day, but not the next, or that it only works for a few people. They can’t develop a universal calibration system.”

Morris says the noninvasive nature of Raman spectroscopy could help boost quality of life for diabetes patients, but that to be practical, any device would need to become more affordable and very simple to use. The Spectroscopy Lab researchers believe that the smaller machine they are now developing should substantially drive down costs by miniaturizing and reducing the complexity of the instrument.

Barman and Kong plan to launch a clinical study to test the DCC algorithm in healthy volunteers this fall. Their work is funded by the National Institutes of Health and National Center for Research Resources.

In October, Barman will receive the Tomas A. Hirschfeld Award at the Federation of Analytical Chemistry and Spectroscopy Societies Conference, for his work on improving spectroscopy-based glucose measurements.

Tuesday, 10 August 2010

Teaching Kids to Live With Diabetes

Teaching Kids to Live With Diabetes

There’s a priceless chair in the craft shack at Camp Huronda, and it’s not a royal throne or a valuable Louis XVI antique.

It’s one of 10 traditional Muskoka chairs donated to the camp by a local firm, Muskoka in a Box, and there’s no other like it.

The chair, with its familiar wooden slat back and seat, is adorned with the signatures of all the kids and staff that have spent time this summer at the camp for children with Type 1 diabetes.

There’s Serena, Cassi and Braeden, and even a pawprint left by the dog Banting — named after Frederick Banting, who discovered insulin — right next to signature of his owner and camp medical director, Dr. Kusiel Perlman of Toronto’s Hospital for Sick Children.

“They’ll be part of the history of Camp Huronda,” arts and crafts head Kathryn Allwright, 19, said of the names. “I think it’s good for the kids to make their mark. They’ll come back year after year and see their names. It’s their legacy and they will be remembered.”

Karenna Ottywill hadn’t had time to sign. She’d only been at camp for a couple of days and was getting used to the lay of the land. It’s her first time at Huronda, and making friends was the priority.

Diagnosed on her birthday, Feb. 21, the 10-year-old is still learning how to control her blood sugar levels.

“Every time I have to eat, I have to test. I put a strip in a glucose thing (monitor), prick my finger and then put a drop of blood on the strip.”

The glucose “thing” reads the sugar level, which should be somewhere between 5 and 7.

“It’s hard to keep them where they should be,” said Karenna, who keeps her levels with injections of insulin in her “leg, tummy or arm” three times a day.

“I don’t like the injections,” she said, adding she will learn how to use a special pump that will allow her to adjust her insulin without needles. It will be one of the things she’ll learn at Huronda, which is run by the Canadian Diabetes Association.

“I’ll learn about stuff I can do so that doesn’t make my levels go low or high.” At Huronda, it’s all about balance.

While she’s learning how to stay healthy, Karenna is also having the time of her life. She’s already brushed down Pebbles, one of the horses at camp, and loved the adventure games with new friends.

“The best thing about camp is being with other kids who have diabetes, too,” Karenna said.

Since she was diagnosed, the Grade 5 student at Owenwood Public School in Mississauga wears special bling — a necklace with a medic-alert pendant just in case she gets sick. She also showed off a bracelet her mother gave her before coming to camp, with a flower and love heart.

“My mom gave it to me to remember her.”

While Karenna is among the new kids who come to camp every summer, Justine Bayne, 12, is a veteran. This is her fifth time at Huronda.

“I keep coming back because I love seeing my camp friends,” she said. “I also learn about diabetes while having fun like a normal kid.”

Justine, who was diagnosed at 2 1/2, controls her blood sugar levels with a pump she keeps in her pocket that dispenses insulin according to her needs “and with a lot of help from my doctors.”

“The hardest part is to control what you’re doing,” she said. “My pump gives me insulin and keeps me on target.”

Like the other kids at Huronda, lessons learned at camp are not only life-changing but life-saving. In conjunction with their meds, food is the key and the intake of carbohydrates is closely regulated.

“At camp, we learn to be responsible to take care of our diabetes. There are people here to help us, but it’s our responsibility,” she explained. “When we grow up, we need to take care of ourselves.”

The camp has a team of medical professionals who are specialists in childhood diabetes on site 24/7.

For Justine, camp is also where she’s not the odd one out. It’s why she misses Huronda when she’s not there.

“People here know what you’re going through,” she said, adding that for those who don’t have diabetes, it is hard to understand. “Some people may not treat you the same even though you’re normal.”

Saturday, 7 August 2010

The Best Time To Screen For Diabetes

The Best Time To Screen For Diabetes

More than twenty three million Americans have diabetes, and most have type-two Diabetes. Type-two diabetes is associated with an increased risk of heart disease, stroke, kidney and eye disease. Screening can help reduce the risk of those complications.

Until now, experts recommended that anyone overweight, or with a family history of the disease, be screened for diabetes. Now, a recent study published in the Journal Lancet says it's best to start screening for type-two diabetes before middle age and to repeat this testing every few years. In fact, using mathematical models, researchers found the most cost-effective approach is to begin screening between the ages of thirty and forty-five, and retest every three to five years.

They say this approach saves more money in the long-run and improves patients quality of life. Remember, talk to you doctor about when you should begin screening, which involves nothing more than a simple blood test.

Friday, 6 August 2010

Obesity, Diabetes, Heart Disease, High Cholesterol and High Blood Pressure

Obesity, Diabetes, Heart Disease, High Cholesterol and High Blood Pressure

They are the biggest killers in America: Diabetes, high cholesterol, high blood pressure and heart disease. The most common causes of these deadly conditions are: Physical inactivity, fattening snacks and beverages, obesity, stress, and smoking. The shocking news is that these diseases are so easily preventable.

A frequent cause of blame is the unhealthy food choices people make regularly. It’s okay to splurge once in a while, but it is the habits you follow daily that will determine your overall health. Constantly consuming chips, bacon, cakes, sugary drinks, candy, sausage, and cigarettes will get you nothing but poor health, deadly diseases, and a ticket straight to heaven prematurely.

According to the CDC over 63% (that’s over 180 million) of the US population is overweight or obese and is physically inactive, resulting in tens of millions who have chronic deadly, but preventable, conditions such as high cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes, and pre-diabetes. Recently the CDC reported that more than 70% (over 1.7 million) of all causes of death in America are caused by only three preventable factors: obesity, sedentary lifestyles, and smoking. The very fact that these factors are easily preventable is heartbreaking.

One of the major contributors to poor health is the excessive consumption of cholesterol. The body produces over 85% of the cholesterol we need and the sugar stores in our liver and muscles remain saturated due to physical inactivity. Because we are largely a couch-potato society and the food we consume every day is loaded with animal-based fats, the extra fat gets dumped into our arteries, belly areas, and under the skin all over our bodies.

Another major contributor to deadly diseases, poor health, and premature aging and death is physical inactivity. Most of us sit throughout an entire workday then go home and sit in front of the TV for another 5 to 6 hours while consuming large fatty meals, snacks, and sugary or alcoholic beverages that are rich in saturated fats, salt, and sugar, all of which contribute to increased belly fat. Shockingly, belly fat is the most dangerous kind because it causes inflammation in the arteries contributing to plaque build up in the arteries and insulin resistance leading to heart attacks and diabetes.

Yet another common issue is that people are unaware of how unhealthy the foods they consume are. When people don’t read nutrition labels they tend to consume very dense food and sugary beverages that are nutrient deficient. These foods are readily available in fast food restaurants and vending machines and contain loads of sugar, fat, and unwanted calories. Sugary soft drinks (which alone contribute to over 33% of all US obesity), sugary lemonade, sweetened iced tea, smoothies, lattes, and frappucinos, which contain loads of sugar and fat that further contribute to the accumulation of belly fat, make you more of a magnet to all sorts of deadly, but preventable, diseases. One of the worst mistakes people make as well is skipping meals which makes the body more efficient at storing and gaining fat weight.

Fortunately there are important steps to help you make balanced food and activity choices and help you start a lifestyle makeover process which will be your shield against deadly diseases as you age gracefully:

If you have any chronic disease(s) take your medications as prescribed.

Eat 3 main balanced meals, reduce your portion sizes, and raise your fiber intake.

Consume 2 fruit and nuts snacks between meals.

Switch all sugary drinks to water or diet soft drinks. Sweeten all other hot or cold beverages with artificial sweeteners or sugar-free flavoring powders. Limit all non-water beverages to a couple a day.

Increase your daily walking activity to over 10,000 steps a day by making more frequent trips at home, the office, while shopping, and anywhere else.

The good news is that diabetes, heart disease, and other chronic diseases can be prevented, managed, and reversed with your own choices, actions and a lifestyle makeover. Now is the time to start putting these tips to good use and begin feeling better and living healthier right away!

Thursday, 5 August 2010

Diabetes Can Harm Lungs Just Like Smoking

Diabetes Can Harm Lungs Just Like Smoking

People with diabetes may have impaired lung function, which is similar to the impairment found in smokers, according to a recent study.

Researchers from the Netherlands conducted a literature review of 40 studies describing the pulmonary function data of 3,182 patients with diabetes and 27,080 control subjects.

The meta-analysis showed that, in the absence of overt pulmonary disease, diabetes was associated with a modest but statistically significant impairment in lung function in a restrictive pattern.

A sub-analysis revealed that the association seemed more pronounced in type 2 diabetes compared with type 1 diabetes.

Researchers explained that the degree of lung function impairment found in their study closely resembles that of smoking.

They further speculate that diabetes may accelerate lung function decline in those with chronic lung conditions, including chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

The study is published in the August issue of Chest, the peer-reviewed journal of the American College of Chest Physicians.

Wednesday, 4 August 2010

Teens With Type 2 Diabetes Have Brain Abnormalities

Teens With Type 2 Diabetes Have Brain Abnormalities

Obese adolescents with type 2 diabetes have diminished cognitive performance and subtle abnormalities in the brain, a study by researchers at NYU Langone Medical Centre has found.

"This is the first study that shows that children with type 2 diabetes have more cognitive dysfunction and brain abnormalities than equally obese children who did not yet have marked metabolic dysregulation from their obesity, " says Antonio Convit, MD, professor of Psychiatry and Medicine at NYU Langone Medical Center and the Nathan S. Kline Institute for Psychiatric Research.

"The findings are significant because they indicate that insulin resistance from obesity is lowering children's cognitive performance, which may be affecting their ability to perform well in school."

Researchers studied 18 obese adolescents with type 2 diabetes and compared them to equally obese adolescents from the same socio-economic and ethnic background but without evidence of marked insulin resistance or pre-diabetes.

Investigators found that adolescents with type 2 diabetes not only had significant reductions in performance on tests that measure overall intellectual functioning, memory, and spelling, which could affect their school performance, but also had clear abnormalities in the integrity of the white matter in their brains.

"Now we see that subtle changes in white matter of the brain in adolescents may be a result of the abnormal physiology that accompanies type 2 diabetes. If we can improve insulin sensitivity and help children through exercise and weight loss, perhaps we can reverse these deficits."

Tuesday, 3 August 2010

Lifestyle Biggest Culprit in Diabetes Epidemic

Lifestyle Biggest Culprit in Diabetes Epidemic

There is an epidemic in this country that affects nearly 8 percent of the population -- but is expected to impact 33 percent within the next generation.

It claims more than 200,000 lives and costs at least $174 billion a year.

This deadly and costly disease is diabetes.

"The numbers are staggering," says Pam Drake, a diabetes clinical nurse specialist at Cox Health. Based on World Health Organization projections, by 2030 more than 350 million people will have the disease worldwide. "It's going to be more than we can even imagine costwise," says Drake.

The American Diabetes Association predicts that one in three children born today has the risk of developing diabetes in his or her lifetime, says Renee Steele-Paulsell, executive director of the ADA of southwest Missouri. "You don't have to be too smart mathematically to understand this is going to break our health care budget if we don't get a handle on diabetes."

The rising numbers -- 17.9 million diagnosed, 5.7 million undiagnosed, and 57 million considered "pre-diabetic" -- will put an enormous strain on the country's health care system, says Dr. Larry Chase, president of the ADA of southwest Missouri board of directors and former medical director for the Cox Diabetes Center.

If nothing is done to stem this epidemic, the cost to our health-care system will soar "the likes of which we've never seen before," Chase says.

While type 1 diabetes -- formerly known as juvenile diabetes -- is a genetic condition that cannot be prevented, it is type 2 diabetes that is the culprit in this epidemic. Type 2 diabetes was formerly known as adult onset diabetes because it was most common for someone in their 40s or older to be diagnosed. Children -- as young as preteens -- are now starting to get type 2 diabetes.

Genetics also plays a role in type 2 diabetes -- it is more common in some ethnic groups -- but the big culprit in the epidemic is lifestyle. Poor eating habits, obesity and sedentary lives combine with genetic factors to produce a lethal mix called type 2 diabetes.

It is lethal because the complications of diabetes include heart disease, high blood pressure, kidney failure and more. When the typical case of type 2 diabetes was found in a middle aged person, they had an estimated 25 years to live with the disease and cope with the complications. "But what happens if I'm 12?" asks Chase. "Now I'm looking at six decades of worrying about complications."

Unlike type 1, which is caused by a pancreas that will not produce insulin, type 2 occurs when either the pancreas doesn't produce enough insulin or the body ignores the insulin.

Neither type can be cured, but type 1 can often be controlled with insulin therapy and other treatment.

Beyond lifestyle corrections, Type 2 has a variety of medications available to adults, but few approved for children, Chase says.

Research continues for both types of diabetes, but the most important steps anyone can take is prevention and detection, says Chase.

Eating healthy and getting exercise to keep fit can often keep diabetes away and will certainly help minimize complications if diabetes strikes.

Regular medical care, including testing for blood sugar, can sound the alert if diabetes or a pre-diabetic condition exists.

"Know your score. Get screened. Get routine checkups," Chase advises. "Don't let diabetes sneak up on you."

Monday, 2 August 2010

Pregnancy-Related Diabetes Likely to Recur

Pregnancy-Related Diabetes Likely to Recur

Pregnant women with a history of pregnancy-related diabetes, also called gestational diabetes, have a good chance of developing the condition again, suggests a large new study.

Researchers found that the risk of having gestational diabetes during a future pregnancy increases with each previously affected one -- from 41 percent after the first to 57 percent after two pregnancies complicated by gestational diabetes.

Gestational diabetes typically strikes during late pregnancy and is characterized by high blood sugar that results from the body's impaired use of insulin. While it rarely causes birth defects, complications can arise that threaten the health of both mom and baby.

"Because of the silent nature of gestational diabetes, it is important to identify early those who are at risk and watch them closely during their prenatal care," lead researcher Dr. Darios Getahun of Kaiser Permanente Southern California Medical Group, in Pasadena, said.

In an attempt to distinguish factors that put women at risk, Getahun and his colleagues studied the first two pregnancies of about 65,000 women and the first three pregnancies of about 13,000 women who sought care at their health center between 1991 and 2008.

Approximately 4 percent of the women developed gestational diabetes during their first pregnancy, they report in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology. This matches the U.S. rate estimated by the American Diabetes Association.

The team found that these women were about 13 times more likely to develop it again in their second pregnancy, compared to women without previous gestational diabetes. Among third pregnancies, the risk of diabetes for women who had two previous cases rose to 26 times that of women without any history of gestational diabetes.

Looking more closely at the data, it appeared that the most recent case of gestational diabetes was the most influential: About 44 percent of women with a diagnosis in their second but not first pregnancy developed gestational diabetes, compared to 23 percent of those with the condition in their first but not second pregnancy.

Hispanics, Asians and Pacific Islanders had approximately double the risk of gestational diabetes compared with white women, after taking into account factors such as age and education. The researchers guess that the relatively high consumption of rice in the latter two groups may cause elevated sugar and insulin levels, potentially triggering the condition.

The study, which was supported by funds from Kaiser Permanente, did not take into account lifestyle factors such as weight. This, the researchers say, limits the findings' applicability given that overweight and obesity -- now affecting approximately one out of every three women of childbearing age -- is thought to contribute to the recurrence of gestational diabetes.

The American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology and the American Diabetes Association both recommend that women at risk of type 2 diabetes be counseled on the benefits of modifying their diet, exercising and weight loss. This group includes those with a history of gestational diabetes.

"Early identification of at-risk populations and the timely initiation of a (post-delivery) lifestyle intervention may help to prevent gestational diabetes and related adverse pregnancy outcomes," Getahun told Reuters Health.