In 1949, Priscilla White published Pregnancy Complicating Diabetes, which described the results and implications of a fifteen-year study about pregnant diabetic women. Published in the American Journal of Medicine, the article details possible causes of and ways to prevent the high fetal mortality rate associated with pregnant diabetic women. Diabetes is a disease in which the body's ability to produce or respond to the hormone insulin is impaired, and it can be particularly dangerous during pregnancies. In her article, White reported that prematurely delivering infants for diabetic pregnant women reduces infant and maternal mortality rates. Pregnancy Complicating Diabetes helped make premature delivery of infants the standard of care for diabetic pregnant women, and it has contributed to the increased survival rate of infants born from diabetic mothers from less than fifty percent in the 1940s to over ninety percent in 2017.
During the twentieth century, Norbert Freinkel studied hormones and diabetes in the US. Freinkel conducted many experiments that enabled him to determine the factors that influence hormones of the thyroid gland to bind to proteins and to determine the effects that those thyroid hormones have on surrounding tissues. Furthermore, Freinkel researched gestational diabetes, which is diabetes that occurs for the first time during a women’s pregnancy. That type of diabetes is caused by a change in the way a woman’s body responds to insulin, a hormone made in the body. Infants who are born from pregnant women with gestational diabetes can possess many different medical conditions such as type 2 diabetes, respiratory distress syndrome, and low blood sugar. Through his research on gestational diabetes, Freinkel found that all pregnant women go through metabolic changes, not just gestational diabetics.
Norbert Freinkel’s lecture Of Pregnancy and Progeny was published by the American Diabetes Association’s journal Diabetes in December of 1980. In the lecture, Freinkel argued that pregnancy changes the way that the female body breaks down and uses food. Through experiments that involved pregnant women as well as infants, Freinkel established the body’s maternal metabolism and how it affects both the mother and the infant. Freinkel’s main focus of research in the latter part of his life was diabetes, specifically in pregnant women. Diabetes occurs in around one to three percent of all pregnancies, which is 30,000 to 90,000 women a year in the US. Freinkel’s article indicates that pregnancy influences the metabolism in all pregnant females and that pregnancy complicated by diabetes is only an exaggeration of what occurs in all pregnant women. Subsequently, many doctors more closely monitored pregnant women and their blood sugar and insulin levels, as doctors were informed that all pregnant women have the capacity to become diabetic.