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A Natural Approach to Preventing Gestational Diabetes

October 26th, 2015
image courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net

By Katie Woodward, PharmD Student

You are having a new baby! Congratulations! You’ve probably already had several opportunities to answer that age-old question, “What gender are you hoping for?” And it is likely you responded with something like, “I don’t care as long as my baby is healthy!” Thanks to new scientific research, your chances of delivering a healthy baby are constantly improving.

We are going to play a quick game of “Bad News/Good News.” The bad news: gestational diabetes may cause complications in your pregnancy. Several factors may put you at risk of developing gestational diabetes. If diabetes runs in your family, if you are overweight, not very active, or over the age of 40 you are at risk of developing gestational diabetes.1 Gestational diabetes can cause jaundice, high birth weight, trauma during birth, increase necessity for C-section, and increase likelihood of obesity or diabetes in the child.1,2 Gestational diabetes also puts a new mother at risk of developing Type 2 Diabetes, which can require insulin injections and other treatments to control.

Now, for the good news: new research has demonstrated that myo-inositol is a supplement you can take which significantly decreases your chances of developing gestational diabetes, even if you are at high-risk.3 For those already diagnosed with gestational diabetes, taking a myo-inositol supplement can help decrease your need for insulin, make you more likely to carry the baby to term, and decrease your infant’s chances of developing hypoglycemia.3 Standard treatment for gestational diabetes requires the patient to check blood sugar levels in the morning and after meals, which can require several needle sticks per day as well as the purchase of a glucometer, test strips, and lancets.4 Insulin injections are also used to help control the blood sugar in up to 20% of women with gestational diabetes.4

A research study published in the Journal of Maternal-Fetal and Neonatal Medicine was designed as a prospective, double-blind, randomized controlled clinical trial which compared a placebo group to a group of mothers who supplemented with myo-inositol twice daily.3 The myo-inositol group had significantly better outcomes including lower maternal BMI, longer gestation at the time of delivery, and decreased abnormal oral glucose tolerance test results. The oral glucose tolerance test is the standard screening measure for gestational diabetes.  One limitation was that the study was relatively small. Some of the data may have been statistically significant if there had been more women involved in the study; for instance, the myo-inositol group had a lower incidence of neonatal hypoglycemia, but the data was not quite strong enough to be statistically significant. Another interesting statistic is that 21% of women in the placebo group required insulin therapy, while only 3% of women in the myo-inositol group required insulin therapy. While larger studies may be needed to validate this data, this study demonstrated that at least 50% of women who take myo-inositol may benefit from the treatment.3 Since the current standard of care for prevention of gestation diabetes is diet change and monitoring blood sugar, myo-inositol may be an easy and beneficial way to minimize complications from gestational diabetes.  It also has a promising potential to minimize the requirement of insulin injections.

Since it is a compound naturally found in both your body and your baby’s body, you can safely consume myo-inositol supplements.5 The product may be a little bit difficult to find in grocery stores, but it can be found in combination products or ordered online. According to research, the supplement is best if taken 2000 mg twice daily (make sure you separate the doses by at least six hours.)One product can be purchased from Fairhaven Health6 where you can get a 60-day supply for less than $20.* Myo-inositol is often combined with another compound called D-chiro inositol, which has also been demonstrated to assist with gestational diabetes.7 The combination product is called Ovasitol and it can be purchased online from Theralogix Nutritional Science Company, but it must be ordered online and can cost up to $1 per day ($90 for a 90 day supply.)8 Another product to consider is called Sensitol, and it contains D-chrio inositol, myo-inositol, and alpha lipoic acid. The product can be ordered online and a thirty day supply is $52.9

Gestational diabetes can have some scary consequences for you and your baby. Based on the evidence, I would recommend that any mother who has increased risk of gestational diabetes should discuss supplementation with myo-inositol with their medical provider.   It could help prevent or minimize problems associated with gestational diabetes. Myo-inositol may be expensive and may not be easily accessible to all; since it is commonly used as a preventative supplement, do you think that pregnant women at high risk for developing gestational diabetes should consider it as an option?

*The manufacturer suggests that the drug be taken four times daily, but in studies, the 2000 mg dose was only recommended twice daily.3 Also, this will help decrease the cost of the drug.

**Note: The Cochrane Collaboration is working on a new study to further describe the dosing and efficacy of myo-inositol as a treatment/ prevention method for gestational diabetes and it should be released soon.

References

  1. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/pdfs/library/diabetesreportcard2014. Accessed October 14, 2015.
  2. Brown J. Myo-inositol for preventing gestational diabetes. Cochrane Database Of Systematic Reviews [serial online]. February 2, 2015;(2)Available from: Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, Ipswich, MA. Accessed October 11, 2015.
  3. Matarrelli B, Vitacolonna E, Celentano C, et al. Effect of dietary myo-inositol supplementation in pregnancy on the incidence of maternal gestational diabetes mellitus and fetal outcomes: a randomized controlled trial. The Journal Of Maternal-Fetal & Neonatal Medicine: The Official Journal Of The European Association Of Perinatal Medicine, The Federation Of Asia And Oceania Perinatal Societies, The International Society Of Perinatal Obstetricians [serial online]. July 2013;26(10):967-972. Available from: MEDLINE with Full Text, Ipswich, MA. Accessed October 11, 2015
  4. Available at: http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/gestational-diabetes/basics/treatment/con-20014854. Accessed October 21, 2015.
  5. D’Anna R, Scilipoti A, Di Benedetto A, et al. myo-Inositol supplementation and onset of gestational diabetes mellitus in pregnant women with a family history of type 2 diabetes: a prospective, randomized, placebo-controlled study. Diabetes Care [serial online]. April 2013;36(4):854-857. Available from: MEDLINE, Ipswich, MA. Accessed October 11, 2015.
  6. Available at: http://www.fairhavenhealth.com/myo-inositol.html?cmp=bing&kw=myo-inositol&utm_source=BingShopping&utm_medium=CSE&utm_campaign=myo-inositol. Accessed October 14, 2015.
  7. Costantino D, Guaraldi C. [Role of D-chiro-inositol in glucidic metabolism alterations during pregnancy]. Minerva Ginecol. 2014;66(3):281-91.
  8. Available at: http://www.theralogix.com/index.cfm?fa=products.ovasitol.default&dvsn=reprohealth. Accessed October 14, 2015.
  9. Available at: http://catalog.designsforhealth.com/Sensitol?quantity=1. Accessed October 21, 2015.

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6 Responses to “A Natural Approach to Preventing Gestational Diabetes”

  1. Lia G Hickinbotham Says:

    If you get gestational diabetes, would you be more likely to gestational diabetes again with another pregnancy or have an increased risk of being diagnosed with diabetes later in life?

  2. Katie Woodard Says:

    Hey Leah, that’s a good question! According to the CDC website (number 1 on my works cited), any time someone is diagnosed with diabetes, they are at-risk of developing diabetes again later in life. The CDC says that 5-10% of women who are diagnosed with gestational diabetes are diagnosed with type 2 diabetes shortly after pregnancy. The CDC also says that being diagnosed with gestational diabetes increases the risk for the patient to get the same diagnosis in future pregnancies. I hope this helps answer your question!

    Here is a link to the CDC report I used to answer your questions: http://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/pubs/statsreport14/national-diabetes-report-web.pdf and it’s on page 10 of the report!

  3. Micah Bernard Says:

    This is a really cool topic, Katie!
    I had never heard of this supplement, but based on the study you mentioned, it seems like all pregnant women with risk of gestational diabetes should strongly consider taking this supplement. Because of the other health benefits of myo-Inositol, such as lower BMI in mothers and longer gestational period, do you think all pregnant women should consider taking it, even if they are not at risk for gestational diabetes?

  4. James Baffoe Says:

    Interesting article, Katie! But why do you think Myo inositol is hard to find in the grocery store. I thought it wasn’t approved at first but my then I researched and realize it was. Any reason why it is hard to find at the grocery store but just have to order online? All the same I find this to be very interesting and I am quite pleased how people will be able to treat their gestational diabetes.

  5. Tori Bumgardner Says:

    This is so interesting! Since it works for gestational diabetes, I wonder if it could also be used to help with regular type 2 diabetes or at least people who are pre-diabetic. Since it decreases your need for insulin, it would seem like myo-inositol could be used in those instances also. I think that could be something interesting to do research on! Nice work, Katie!

  6. Jessica Ward Says:

    Very interesting read, Katie! My cousin had gestational diabetes in her second pregnancy, but not her first. She did not end up having to be on insulin, thankfully! Mom’s are often extremely protective of their children and their health during pregnancy, are there any risks with over supplementation with myo-inositol?

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