According to a new study that focused on how different birth control methods may be related to the risk of developing gestational diabetes, those who were on hormonal birth control increased their risk of it by 40 percent.

The correlation of Gestational Diabetes Mellitus or GDM and hormonal contraceptives was found by health researchers by analyzing data from 2,741 pregnancies. They collected the data for two surveys in 2007 and 2008 by the Pregnancy Risk Assessment Monitoring System (PRAMS).

The research was done in New York City and 40 other states, representing around 78 percent of live births in all of the United States. The study monitored the experiences of first time mothers prior, during and post pregnancy. The women were asked to answer questions on any history of GDM and their birth control use before and after pregnancy such as vasectomy, tubal ligation, condoms, birth control pills, contraceptive patches, injections, cervical ring, diaphragm, intrauterine device, withdrawal, rhythm method or any other method. The study also accounted for factors such as race, education, income level, prenatal care level and quality and marital status.

The researchers found that women who used hormonal contraception were 1.4 times more at risk of developing gestational diabetes. There is also evidence that other factors may be linked to GDM, including weight and age. Women who were 30 years old and above were 1.5 times more likely to develop gestational diabetes than those who were younger than 20 years. Women who were obese or overweight prior to their pregnancies had a 3.04 higher risk to GDM than those of average weight.

"Gestational diabetes is a potentially serious condition that affects many pregnancies. The significant potential complications of diabetes in pregnancy was in large part responsible for the now universal recommendation that all pregnant women be tested for diabetes at approximately 28 weeks, earlier if certain high risk categories exist," Birth and Women's Care OB-GYN Andre Hall, MD from Fayetteville, North Carolina said.

However, the study has its limits with missing information on how contraception questions were worded and the exact duration and timing of the contraception use. Further investigation is needed before new medical recommendations can be given.

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