Gestational Diabetes Increases Risk of Future Type 2 Diabetes

Women with gestational diabetes are at an increased risk for developing type 2 diabetes later in life concludes a recent study. This finding should lead to more extensive preventative measures for these high risk women.

Gestational diabetes occurs when pregnant women with no diabetic history display abnormally high blood glucose levels. Gestational diabetes effects upwards of 10% of pregnant women, and is likely due to changing hormones disrupting insulin sensitivity.

21,823 women who had been diagnosed with gestational diabetes were accounted for in the study, and medical records were examined for nine years following pregnancy. Compared to 2% of women without gestational diabetes developing type 2 diabetes within nine years, approximately 19% of gestational diabetes women developed type 2 diabetes. “In this large, population-based study, we found that diabetes developed within 9 years after the index pregnancy in 18.9% of women with previous gestational diabetes; this rate was much higher than the rate among women without gestational diabetes (2%),” says author Dr. Denice Feig.

A sharp increase in type 2 diabetes incidence occurred during the first nine months following birth, peaking at the nine year limit of the follow-up study. These conclusions were made indiscriminately of ethnicity, social class, obesity and other known high risk groups for type 2 diabetes.

Type 2 diabetes is an often preventable and controllable disease, but many people are unaware when they are at high risk. Genetics, ethnicity, and other factors have been well documented as risk factors for diabetes, but this is the first study to conclude that the large number of women that exhibit gestational diabetes are also at high risk. Awareness is a major key to prevention, so both doctors and patients being aware that the previous condition puts them at higher risk for type 2 diabetes, should enable them to take measures to prevent the onset of the dangerous disease.

Source: Defeat Diabetes Foundation: Feig, Denice. Freedhoff, Yoni. CMAJ news release. July 2008.

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