History of Pregnancy-Linked Diabetes Helps Predict Its Return

MONDAY July 12, 2010 -- Women who had gestational diabetes in their first and second pregnancies are at greatly increased risk for the condition in future pregnancies, a new study finds.

Gestational diabetes can lead to early delivery, cesarean section and type 2 diabetes in the mother, and may increase a child's risk of developing diabetes and obesity later in life.

"Because of the silent nature of gestational diabetes, it is important to identify early those who are at risk and watch them closely during their prenatal care," lead author Dr. Darios Getahun, a research scientist/epidemiologist in the research and evaluation department at Kaiser Permanente Southern California, said in a Kaiser news release.

In this study, researchers analyzed the medical history of more than 65,000 women who delivered babies at a Kaiser Permanente Southern California medical center between 1991 and 2008.

Compared to women who didn't have gestational diabetes in their first and second pregnancies, those who had the condition in their first but not second pregnancies were more than six times as likely to develop it in their third pregnancy. Women who had gestational diabetes in their first and second pregnancies were almost 26 times more likely to have it during their third pregnancy, the team report.

The risk of gestational diabetes recurrence was higher in Hispanics and Asian/Pacific Islanders than in whites. Recurrence was also more common in women 30 and older and in those with a longer period of time between any two of their successive pregnancies.

The findings, published online in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, highlight the importance of educating and counseling pregnant women who developed gestational diabetes in a previous pregnancy, said the researchers.

"Clinicians should be aware and counsel potential pregnant women about their increased risk and that early detection and initiation of treatment is important, because unrecognized or untreated gestational diabetes is likely to lead to adverse maternal and fetal outcomes," Getahun said.

More information

The U.S. National Institute of Child Health and Human Development has more about gestational diabetes.

Posted: July 2010


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