Women with gestational diabetes at much greater risk of type 2 diabetes

Fri, 08 Mar 2013
New research suggests that women who develop gestational diabetes during pregnancy are significantly more likely to be diagnosed with type 2 diabetes in the future.

The study, led by Soo Heon Kwak of Seoul National University Hospital, South Korea, followed 843 women in Seoul who were diagnosed with gestational diabetes between 1996 and 2003, making it one of the largest of its kind to study gestational diabetes in Asian women.

The researchers reported that 105 women (around 12.5%) developed type 2 diabetes within two months of giving birth, while others progressed to the disease more slowly, with diabetes diagnosis made a year or more after the birth of their child. Over the next decade, the number of women diagnosed with type 2 diabetes continued to grow at a rate of 6.8 per cent a year.

"The findings indicate as many as half of Asian women who have gestational diabetes will develop Type 2 diabetes within eight years of giving birth," the authors said.

They explained that the timing of the disease's onset could be due to genetic variations. For example, women who rapidly developed type 2 diabetes (within two months) were found to have a variation in the HHEX gene that is associated with the condition, while women who were slower to develop the disorder were more likely to have a variation in the CDKAL1 gene, which also has been linked to it's development.

Kwak said it is important that women who have suffered gestational diabetes undergo regular blood sugar testing .

"It is crucial for women who had gestational diabetes to have their blood sugar levels checked two months after giving birth and annually thereafter," he commented. "In addition to the problems undiagnosed Type 2 diabetes poses to the mother, leaving the disease untreated increases the risk of any future children developing congenital disorders."

The findings are published in the April 2013 issue of the Endocrine Society's Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism (JCEM).
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