Research may highlight why so many diabetic women have caesarean births

Fri, 09 Dec 2011
Scientists have revealed that a badly contracting uterus in pregnant diabetic women could increase their risk from undergoing emergency caesarean births. The research, carried out at the University of Liverpool, showed that the strength of uterine contractions in pregnant women with diabetes were much poorer than that of women that don't suffer from the metabolic condition.

The work, one of the few to examine why the ratio of diabetic women having caesarean births is so high, assessed over 100 biopsies of the uterus from pregnant diabetic and non-diabetic women.

It was shown that contractions in those with diabetes were not as strong as those without it, so the researchers examined potential differences in the changes in calcium within the muscle cells, a key element of uterine contractions. It was revealed that in diabetic women calcium levels was substantially lowered, and that channels in the cell membrane that are responsible for calcium entering the cells was also reduced.

In addition, uterus tissue in women with diabetes weren't reaching similar levels of contractility as for non-diabetic women when it was stimulated with the drug oxytocin, a common treatment for women facing a difficult birth, which could be why the amount of pregnancies in diabetic women that result in emergency caesareans is so high.

Researcher Sue Wray commented "Our work shows that calcium in inhibited from entering the muscle cells. This, together with evidence of reduced overall muscle mass, contributes to a poorly contracting uterus in women with diabetes."
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