Researchers in Germany have developed a simple test for calculating the risk of type 2 diabetes in the years following gestational diabetes.
Women who develop gestational diabetes, which occurs during pregnancy, have a higher risk of developing “postpartum type 2 diabetes” – that is, type 2 diabetes in the years immediately following the pregnancy. In most cases, the symptoms of gestational diabetes will disappear following the baby’s birth, but they often return as type 2 diabetes a short while later. Clinicians have to pay close attention to a new mother’s diabetes symptoms following her pregnancy, in case she develops postpartum type 2 diabetes.
This study, conducted by researchers at the Institute of Diabetes Research, Helmholtz Zentrum Münche, involved the development of a simple test to judge a mother’s risk of postpartum type 2 diabetes.
The researchers analysed the data of 257 participants, all of whom were women who developed gestational diabetes between 1989 and 1999. The participants were followed for 20 years after the delivery of their baby.
Of the 257 participants, 110 developed postpartum type 2 diabetes. The researchers, keen to find a way to predict postpartum type 2 diabetes, tested the parameters that trigger the development of type 2 diabetes.
“Body mass index (BMI) and genetic predisposition both play a role in our calculatio, as does the question of whether the mother breastfed her baby and whether her gestational diabetes had to be treated with insulin,” said Meike Köhler, first author of the study.
Using the parameters, the researchers developed a points system to predict the likelihood that a pregnant mother with gestational diabetes would experience postpartum type 2 diabetes. The points system indicates the likelihood that a mother will develop type 2 diabetes within five years of her baby’s birth. Low scores indicate a risk of around 11 per cent. Medium scores are given to women with a 29-64 per cent risk, and a high-risk score is given when the risk of postpartum type 2 diabetes is greater than 80 per cent.
Professor Anette-Gabriele Ziegler, Director of the Institute of Diabetes Research, said: “The test we developed is very easy to apply and in the future could be used in hospitals as a tool for predicting postpartum diabetes.
“This means that both doctor and the patient are aware of the respective risk, and it allows diabetes checks to be more closely tailored to the patient’s individual needs.”
The findings are published in Acta Diabetologica.

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