A small weight gain in the years leading up to pregnancy can increase the risk of gestational diabetes, according to a new study published in Diabetes Research and Clinical Practice.

If a mother gained more than 2.5 percent of her body weight, her risk of gestational diabetes nearly tripled compared to women who maintained their weight. Additionally, those who gained between 1.5 to 2.5 percent of their body weight and remained within a healthy body mass index (BMI) range doubled their risk of gestational diabetes.

Read: ‘Obesity Paradox’ Debunked: Overweight People Have Higher Risk Of Early Death, Study Finds

pregnant woman
About 7 percent of pregnant women develop gestational diabetes. Photo courtesy of Pixabay

The researchers followed more than 3,000 women who were between 18 and 23 years old when the study began in 1996. Once the research started, the participants were surveyed regularly, answering questions about their weight, pregnancies, and overall health, according to a press release on ScienceDaily.

"It's important for women and their clinicians to be aware that, even in the healthy BMI range, gaining a kilogram or two a year can be a health risk," said study author Akilew Adane.

For reference, one kilogram is equivalent to about 2.2 pounds.

Gestational diabetes is typically developed during the 24th week of pregnancy, according to the American Diabetes Association. Like other types of diabetes, gestational diabetes affects your blood sugar levels. Usually, upon delivery of the baby, your blood sugar will return to normal; however, you’re at an increased risk for type 2 diabetes.

Although any pregnant woman is at risk for developing gestational diabetes, those with a greater risk include women who are older than 25, have prediabetes, or are non-white.

See also: Moderate Pregnancy Weight Gain May Increase Risk Of Stillbirth, Neonatal Death

Mothers Gaining Weight Excessively During Pregnancy May Put Newborn Babies At Risk Of Childhood Obesity