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Research reports that high insulin levels are toxic to placenta causing miscarriages

Recent research found that higher insulin levels can be toxic to the placenta in test tubes. And, it could possibly cause miscarriages. But risk can be reduced by doing other things.

Miscarriage usually happens early in your pregnancy and it is a pregnancy loss before 20 weeks. It is the most common pregnancy problem, ending crudely one in four pregnancies. Many people experience this kind of pregnancy loss.

Though pregnancy loss can occur due to many reasons, most of the time the actual cause cannot be recognized.
But new research published in the medical journal Fertility and Sterility may offer clarification and help avert future losses from happening in the future.

Researchers of the study say they have found that insulin is toxic to early placenta cells and can cause miscarriage.

Furthermore, metformin, a common medicine used for treating type 2 diabetes as well as a reduced-carbohydrate, low-sugar diet can provide a safe solution for women with insulin resistance to carry a pregnancy to full term.

According to Dr. Zev Williams, the reason that’s significant is that we actually struggle with unexplained miscarriages. He is a director of the Columbia University Fertility Center and a study co-author.

Researchers state that pregnancy loss is very difficult for a woman and couple on many levels and being told ‘it just happens’ or ‘just don’t stress about it’ or ‘you need to relax’. All those things have a negative meaning for a woman who is facing these losses. They explain that the major objective of their research is to do every possible thing to prevent pregnancy loss.

And although an association between insulin resistance and pregnancy loss is not new, the culprit before this research was believed to be glucose sugar.

Findings of this study suggest that it might be insulin which is causing the harm. And that would alter how we screen and treat women with repeated pregnancy loss.

The impact of insulin

Insulin in and of itself is not problematic, as it is a hormone prepared by the pancreas. It helps to regulate blood sugar levels. But some individuals develop insulin resistance in which the body does not react well to insulin. Sometimes causing the pancreas to produce more and more of the hormone.

Insulin resistance occurs when cells in your fat, muscles, and liver don’t respond suitably to insulin. These cells are negatively impacted and cannot easily recover glucose from the blood.

This isn’t a serious issue for some women. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) explains that, as long as pancreas can make insulin to overcome your cells’ weak reaction to insulin, the levels of your blood glucose will stay in the healthy range.

But Williams describes that the process which is involved in keeping them in the healthy range can cause harm to a developing placenta in test tubes. And this higher insulin level which they’re making may damage the placenta during pregnancy.

What are the risk factors and signals?

It’s Williams’ expectation that insulin resistance can be identified at an early stage of pregnancy to prevent loss.
First, the high sugar levels were just detected, but now we have to start to treat it. And here is the facts suggesting that before the sugar levels start to get high, treatment is essential.

Though pre-screening is a good idea, women in some areas have a higher risk of insulin resistance, according to the NIDDK.

Women with these risk factors should make insulin screening a priority prior to or in the early stages of their pregnancy;

• obese or overweight
• people with age over 45
• people with sleep issues
• sedentary
• a family history of having heart disease, or diabetes
• health conditions like high blood pressure, hormonal imbalances, and abnormal cholesterol levels
• polycystic ovarian syndrome
• American Indian, Asian American, African American, Alaska Native, Hispanic/Latino, Native Hawaiian, or Pacific Islander American ethnicity

Likewise, women who are facing the following symptoms should make screening the main concern. As, these can be symbols of insulin resistance, according to Williams.

  • issues with high levels of acne
  • sometimes irregular periods
  • the hair on the face or body

Is metformin safe to use in pregnancy?

Metformin was found to prevent the adverse effects of higher insulin levels on initial placenta cells, but is it safe for pregnant women?

Williams explains that in studies looking at pregnancies, there has been no link between metformin use and fetal malformations or poor outcome. Moreover, metformin is widely used, incredibly well-studied, and low-cost medication. It has been used for times for the treatment of diabetes and insulin resistance and diabetes.

Still, researcher’s cautions that try to avoid it if you don’t need it. For Williams, the comparison of safety data of metformin to its toxicity risks to pregnancy, there is a clear possible benefit.

As this is one specifically stirring area as the interference is so safe and low cost and could have possibly a great impact in reducing miscarriages. The challenge is that the types of severe clinical trials which need to be done to demonstrate this absolutely are expensive. And so researchers are working to conduct the proper clinical trials.

Tips for eating well with gestational diabetes

Anyone can have an increased risk of having a miscarriage. But, you can minimize these risk factors by planning ahead and gaining the best potential control at the time of conception and throughout the first 2 months of pregnancy. Try to follow these eating tips;

  • Eat regular meals.
  • Always watch your portion sizes. As there is no need to ‘eat for two’. Portion size will have a major effect on blood glucose level.
  • Include carbohydrates but try to find low GI options and don’t have too much.
  • Get five vegetables a day for minerals, vitamins, and fiber for you and your baby.
  • Try to cut back on salt. As, too much salt is related to high blood pressure, which also increases the risk of diabetes problems.
  • Remember that drinks affect too. Make sure to stick to water or sugar-free drinks.
  • Do not look for distinct diet foods. According to Diabetes UK, they are costly and can comprise as much fat and calories as ordinary forms. And they can also have a laxative effect.

The bottom line

According to new research, insulin is straight toxic to the early placenta in test tubes and high levels can cause pregnancy loss.

Metformin, a low-cost medicine for diabetes, along with diet adjustments in the form of reduced sugar and carbohydrates have been used in potentially preventing miscarriage.

But, still larger clinical in vitro studies are required to confirm these discoveries.

Sophie Abram

Sophie Abram is an author at Top Health Journal. She has a master’s degree in Biochemistry. Evidence-based nutrition is her passion and she loves to devote her career to informing the general public about it. She has extensive experience as a researcher and her research focus is within food reformulation, improving food supply and food environments. Her research examines how nutrition, dietary supplements, and exercise affects human body composition. Twitter- @abram_sophie

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