Researchers from the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences (ICES) in Canada have found that women who were more often exposed to cooler temperatures while pregnant had lower rates of gestational diabetes than their pregnant peers who were more often exposed to warmer temperatures.
Related: Study: Lack of Sleep Linked to Gestational Diabetes
Dr. Gillian Booth, lead author of the study that was published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal said that while it would make sense that pregnant women were outside and more active in warmer temperatures, which might help them maintain weights that would not predispose them to gestational diabetes, what they found was almost the opposite.
According to Dr. Booth, they found that exposure to cold temperatures may improve one's sensitivity to insulin, and in turn lead to fewer cases of gestational diabetes.
The researchers looked at over half a million births to nearly 400,000 women living in the greater Toronto area over a 12-year time period. Some of the women were pregnant when avg. temperatures were warmer and others were pregnant when avg. temperatures were cooler, but researchers looked at the correlational relationship between 30-day air temperature averages right before the gestational screening of the women in the second trimester.
Related: Study: Gestational Diabetes May Affect Baby's Brain
Women who were exposed to extremely cold average temperatures (at or below -10 C/ 14 F) before gestational diabetes screening were 4.6 percent likely to screen positive for diabetes, but increased to 7.7 percent in those women who were exposed to average hot temperatures (above 24 C/75 F). More, the researchers noted that women were six to nine percent more likely to have gestational diabetes for every 10-degree Celsius increase in temperature they were exposed to.
Dr. Booth believes the research is significant with growing concern about the rise in temperatures globally, and predicts a possible increase on a global level of gestational cases because of climate change. She also believes that these study results may have an impact on the relationship between rising global temperatures and Type 2 diabetes overall, and may lead to more research about that relationship.