Women are less likely to have gestational diabetes if their pregnancy spans the winter, according to a study which found that the cooler the weather, the lower the risk of the condition.
The research is the latest to find a link between exposure to cold and improved health, particularly when it comes to diabetes. A separate study published this month found that people with type 2 diabetes improved if they spent time in a marginally colder environment. That research led scientists to advise that people turn down heating in winter.
The latest study looked at more than 500,000 births over 12 years. It was conducted in Toronto, where there is a large seasonal range in temperatures. Women were screened for gestational diabetes between their second and third trimester. When the average temperature was -10C or below, less than 5 per cent had the condition. When 24C or above, it was almost 8 per cent.
Gillian Booth, a scientist at St Michael’s Hospital, Toronto, said that the results, published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, may be explained by the body’s response to cold, in which it makes “brown fat”, which can help regulate insulin response. Dr Booth said: “It fits a pattern we expected from new studies showing that cold exposure can improve your sensitivity to insulin.”