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
By Amy Norton
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.