Skip to content

    Health & Pregnancy

    Font Size

    Diabetes Drug May Not Help Obese Women Do This

    But study says metformin did reduce weight gain, lower risk of dangerously high blood pressure in moms-to-be

    WebMD News from HealthDay

    By Amy Norton

    HealthDay Reporter

    WEDNESDAY, Feb. 3, 2016 (HealthDay News) -- Giving the diabetes drug metformin to obese pregnant women may not help their newborns come into the world at a healthier weight, a new trial finds.

    The study, reported Feb. 4 in the New England Journal of Medicine, adds to evidence that metformin does not curb obese women's risk of having an abnormally large newborn.

    On the other hand, the British researchers found the drug did help control a woman's own weight gain during pregnancy. And it may slash the risk of a potentially dangerous complication called preeclampsia.

    "Those findings bring to light some potential benefits of metformin for these women," said Dr. Jerrie Refuerzo, an associate professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of Texas Health McGovern Medical School, in Houston.

    For now, diet and exercise will remain the mainstay of managing obesity during pregnancy, according to Refuerzo, who was not involved in the study.

    But she said researchers should keep looking at a possible role for metformin.

    Metformin is an oral drug used to control type 2 diabetes, which causes chronically high levels of blood sugar and insulin -- a hormone that regulates blood sugar.

    Metformin is also sometimes given to women who develop pregnancy-related diabetes. One of the main concerns with pregnancy-related diabetes is that the fetus will grow large enough to complicate childbirth or require a cesarean section delivery.

    Those newborns are also at increased risk of potentially dangerous blood-sugar lows after delivery, according the U.S. National Institutes of Health.

    But obese moms-to-be often have large newborns, even if they do not have diabetes. And that might be because their blood sugar and insulin are elevated -- but not high enough to be diagnosed with diabetes, explained Dr. Hassan Shehata, the senior researcher on the new study. He is an obstetrician-gynecologist at Epsom and St. Helier University Hospitals, in London.

    So going into the trial, Shehata's team hoped that metformin would lower obese moms' odds of having a large baby. It didn't turn out that way.

    1 | 2 | 3

    Pregnancy Week-By-Week Newsletter

    Delivered right to your inbox, get pictures and facts on
    what to expect each week of your pregnancy.

    Today on WebMD

    hand circling date on calendar
    Track your most fertile days.
    woman looking at ultrasound
    Week-by-week pregnancy guide.
    Pretty pregnant woman timing contaction pains
    The signs to watch out for.
    pregnant woman in hospital
    Are there ways to do it naturally?
    slideshow fetal development
    pregnancy first trimester warning signs
    What Causes Bipolar
    Woman trying on dress in store
    pregnant woman
    Woman looking at pregnancy test
    calendar and baby buggy
    dark chocolate squares