Americans better at coping with their diabetes

According to the latest figures Americans are now much better at controlling their diabetes.

A study of data on more than 4 million people with type 1 and type 2 diabetes has found that between 2001 and 2006 diabetes control improved by 44 percent and more than half of diabetics reaching recommended targets for controlling blood sugar last year.

Dr. Francine Kaufman, of the University of Southern California and past president of the American Diabetes Association, who analyzed the data says although control has improved, "we are not there yet".

The study, which was based on 22.7 million lab tests done between 2001 and 2006 and was conducted by Quest Diagnostics, found that people with diabetes have a worse time controlling their diabetes in the winter, and that men find it harder to deal with than women.

If diabetes is not controlled the disease will damage blood vessels, leading to loss of toes and limbs, blindness, heart disease and death.

As many as 20.8 million Americans have diabetes and worldwide 5 percent of all deaths each year are caused by the disease; most people have type 2, or adult onset diabetes, in which the body loses its ability to use insulin properly.

Kaufman says the problem is that people underestimate the threat of diabetes, which Kaufman said is a big mistake as it is a life-taking, life-altering disease if it is not managed.

Another study has found that pregnant women with high blood sugar levels could be putting their unborn baby at considerable risk.

Researchers at Northwestern University suggest that even a slight increase in glucose levels can significantly increase the risk of cesarean sections and heavier babies, among other complications.

Although the majority of expectant mothers in the States are given glucose tests, only those with high blood sugar levels and with no history of diabetes are officially diagnosed with gestational diabetes.

Boyd Metzger a professor of medicine at the University says if a pregnant woman is not treated for gestational diabetes large amounts of glucose can make its way into the fetus via the placenta.

Metzger says the issue is the point at which the abnormal glucose levels in pregnancy begin to have a significant effect on the outcome of the pregnancy.

Both studies were presented on Saturday at the American Diabetes Association's annual scientific meeting in Chicago.

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