Bipartisan legislation would expand research for disease impacting up to 18 percent of all U.S. pregnancies

January 07, 2015

(Washington, DC) – U.S. Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Susan Collins (R-ME), co-chairs of the Senate Diabetes Caucus, today reintroduced their bipartisan legislation the Gestational Diabetes Act which would enhance public health research on gestational diabetes, including research on screening, prevention, and identification of risk factors for the disease. The bill is 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. Gestational diabetes is a type of diabetes that occurs during pregnancy and affects up to 18 percent of all pregnancies in the United States.

“Diabetes takes a serious toll on the wellbeing of millions of Americans and our healthcare system,” Senator Shaheen said. “The legislation we’ve introduced today will help improve health outcomes for mothers and children who are threatened by the growing epidemic of gestational diabetes. With smart investments in both research, prevention and treatment, we can improve the quality of life for millions of mothers and babies as well as 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,” 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.”

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 research funding and establishes 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.

As co-chairs of the Senate Diabetes Caucus, Shaheen and Collins have worked together to improve awareness of the threats posed by diabetes, increase research and improve access to treatment options. Last year, Shaheen and Collins introduced legislation to ensure Medicare beneficiaries have access to continuous glucose monitors. They’ve also introduced legislation to expand access to care for seniors with diabetes and establish a commission of health care experts to advance diabetes care and prevention.