New scientific evidence strongly advises gestational diabetes women should not smoke at all. What this new research reveals, is that smoking is particularly harmful to people with diabetes. And our concern here is that gestational diabetes moms, or diabetic women who get pregnant, need to take a heightened warning from this new study.
Scientists have just discovered the “smoking gun” that links smoking (specifically nicotine) to increased levels of blood sugar. While doctors have long known that smokers with diabetes have had higher blood sugar levels than non-smokers with diabetes, what eluded them was the causal agent that increased blood sugar levels. The uncertainty is over.
“This is an important study.” said Dr. Xiao-Chuan Liu, director of the new research, and professor at California State Polytechnic University. “It is the first study, to establish a strong link between nicotine and diabetes complications. If you’re a smoker and have diabetes, you should be concerned and make every effort to quit smoking.” he went on.
“Smoking is really harmful for diabetics. It is even more harmful to them than to a non-diabetic.” said Dr. Liu. And thus, smoking (nicotine) is really really harmful to gestational diabetes moms or diabetic women who get pregnant, because of its negative effect on two lives, one of which is especially sensitive to chemicals because of the baby’s heightened vulnerability during in utero development.
Here is another critical implication of the research. Since nicotine itself is the culprit, nicotine patches, electronic cigarettes, and other nicotine substitution, non-smoking products, would have the same effect. It’s the nicotine intake that has to be stopped, not the particular way it gets into your body.
So now, for gestational diabetes moms, nicotine’s role in raising blood sugar levels carries damaging health implications for her, and for her developing baby, as high blood sugar levels from the mother are passed through the placenta affecting her baby.
Up till now, the recommended strategy for most gestational diabetes moms was to control their elevated levels of blood sugar through diet. For more resistant cases, medication or insulin might be required. Smoking might have been addressed, but only because of its already documented relationship with ill-health. But now, this new research provides even more compelling reasons for pregnant women to stop smoking. It uncovers a previously unknown factor in raising blood sugar to unhealthy levels: nicotine.
This new study indicates that gestational diabetes women can be rigorous in their diet, controlling sugar and carbohydrate intake, eating lots of veggies, but still be experiencing elevated levels of blood sugar because they are smoking, or just being exposed to second-hand smoke. The latter is another consideration for gestational diabetes women: it doesn’t matter where the nicotine comes from, your cigarette, another smoker nearby, a nicotine patch or gum.
“This study should encourage diabetics to quit smoking completely, And to realize that it’s the nicotine that’s raising blood sugar levels.” said Dr. Liu.
Every time a gestational diabetes woman smokes, she is raising her blood sugar level (even small amounts of nicotine were seen to raise blood sugar levels: there is no triggering level amount, it starts with the first puff.). She is increasing her risks, and that of her baby for all kinds of diabetes complications, not only in the short-term, because of the risk of delivery complications, but also the long-term. And, she is raising the specter of higher health care expenses because of the additional costs caused any complicating factors.
It can be challenging to control blood sugar levels through diet alone, but if you smoke, you may be canceling the benefits of adherence to a diabetes diet. So, quitting smoking or diminishing your exposure to secondhand smoke, is now critical for managing blood sugar levels in addition to your diet.
The bottom line is this: this new research underscores why pregnant women with diabetes must stop smoking, even if it is temporary gestational diabetes. They are endangering their health, both in the short and long term, and they are exposing their developing babies to this danger as well.
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