According to a study performed at J.N. Medical College and Hospital and several other research facilities in Uttar Pradesh, India, Gestational diabetes could affect bone growth and development in mothers who have been diagnosed with diabetes during their pregnancy, and their infants. In January and February of 2017, the Indian Journal of Endocrinology and Metabolism reported on a study comparing molecules involved in bone growth in women with and without Gestational diabetes.
In adults, bones are constantly being torn down and regrown according to how much bone mass is needed in any given part of the body. Anyone who lifts weights or runs, for instance, can expect their bones to take on more mass in their arms or legs. As muscles grow, bones grow to be robust enough to support them. Astronauts found their bones lost mass while they were in space because they needed little bone support in zero gravity. Cells called osteoclasts break down bone tissue while cells known as osteoblasts build it up.
Several types of molecules are involved in this constant changeover…
- Vitamin D – helps intestines absorb calcium,
- Calcium – building material for bones,
- Parathyroid hormone – removes calcium from bones and helps vitamin D become more active in calcium absorption,
- Alkaline phosphatase – produced by osteoblasts and thought to be involved in the calcification of bone matrix.
Fifty pregnant women diagnosed with diabetes during their pregnancy and fifty women who had healthy pregnancies were included in the study, which ranged from January of 2014 to November of 2015. The following blood levels were found in the participants…
Calcium – 4.6 mEq/L in women with Gestational diabetes, and 4.55 mEq/L (not statistically significant) in healthy women.
Vitamin D – 21.80 ng.ml in those with diabetes, 32.35 ng/ml in the healthy women
Parathyroid hormone – 71.44 pg/ml and 37.17 pg/ml in the nondiabetic women
Alkaline phosphatase – 9.1 KA U/dl in the women with Gestational diabetes and 6.98 KA U/dl in the healthy pregnant women.
Low vitamin D levels in the women who had diabetes diagnosed during their pregnancy can be expected to result in reduced absorption of calcium from the intestines. Higher parathyroid levels will break down more bone.
The researchers concluded women with Gestational diabetes should be checked for molecules involved in bone change. They recommend corrections in any abnormalities found so both the mother and their baby can maintain healthy bones. Maintaining healthy bones is a concern during pregnancy because calcium stored in the mother’s bones can be used to make the baby’s bones if there is no other source of calcium available.