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Bipartisan bill would research disease impacting millions

(Washington, D.C.) — U.S. Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Susan Collins (R-ME), co-chairs of the Senate Diabetes Caucus, re-introduced bipartisan legislation Wednesday night aimed at lowering the incidence of women developing diabetes during pregnancy and preventing women and their children from developing type 2 diabetes later in life.  The Gestational Diabetes Act of 2013 would enhance public health research on gestational diabetes, including research on screening, prevention, and identification of risk factors for the disease.


“Diabetes of all forms is taking an alarming and growing toll on people of all different backgrounds, ages and genders,” Senator Shaheen said. “When gestational diabetes develops, it often means an array of health problems for the mother and child, including type 2 diabetes for the mother later in life. Diabetes is a devastating and expensive disease, but with research into prevention and treatment, we can improve the quality of life for millions of mothers and save on health care costs.”

“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,” Senator Collins said.  “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 affects up to 18 percent of all pregnancies in the United States. The growing incidence of gestational diabetes 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 for obesity and developing type 2 diabetes later in life.

The Shaheen and Collins legislation bolsters research on gestational diabetes by giving the Secretary of Health and Human Services the authority to expand and enhance monitoring of the disease and to further test evidence-based interventions. The legislation 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 gestational disease.  In addition, the legislation requires the CDC to work with providers to ensure that women who are diagnosed with gestational diabetes receive proper follow-up care.

Earlier this year, Shaheen and Collins introduced new legislation to establish a commission of health care experts to advance diabetes care and prevention. The bill, the National Diabetes Clinical Care Commission Care Act, would bring together public and private sector experts in diabetes research and treatment to offer insight improving clinical care for diabetes patients.