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Bi-partisan bill would research disease affecting millions

(Washington, D.C.) — U.S. Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Susan Collins (R-ME) introduced bipartisan legislation today that would address the growing danger of gestational diabetes, which affects millions of women and children across the country.  The Gestational Diabetes Act of 2011 would enhance public health research on gestational diabetes, including research on screening, prevention, and identification of risk factors for the disease.

“Up to 18 percent of all pregnancies in the United States are affected by gestational diabetes, and the number is growing steadily,” Shaheen said. “Gestational diabetes is associated with an array of health problems for both mother and child during pregnancy and childbirth, and almost half of women with gestational diabetes go on to develop type 2 diabetes later in life.  By researching ways to prevent and treat this disease now, we can save millions of dollars in future health care costs and improve the quality of life for millions of women and children.”

“Our legislation would help to stem the growing epidemic of gestational diabetes in our country, which puts the health of both mother and child at risk,” said Senator Collins.  “The evidence is clear that there is a direct link between gestational diabetes and Type 2 diabetes.  Our legislation would help to identify new treatments and interventions that will reduce the incidence of the disorder and the subsequent risk of mother and child developing Type 2 diabetes in the future.”

Gestational diabetes is a type of diabetes that occurs during pregnancy and carries dangerous health consequences for both the mother and child if left untreated, including preterm delivery, caesarian section and preeclampsia, a life threatening disorder. It also places both the mother and baby at an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes later in life.

The legislation introduced by Shaheen and Collins will support a gestational diabetes research project at the federal government’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that will track mothers who have gestational diabetes and produce an annual report on risk factors and trends. It authorizes up to $5 million annually for other expanded research and up to $5 million annually for establishment of demonstration programs to reduce the occurrence of the disease.