Research co-led by the University of Aberdeen and Keele University in Stoke-on-Trent has found that women who have had pre-eclampsia during pregnancy are more likely to develop type 2 diabetes later in life.
Pre-eclampsia is a condition that affects between five and eight per cent of pregnancies, according to estimations, and is characterized by high blood pressure and protein in the mother’s urine (proteinuria), which is a sign of damage to the kidneys.
Pre-eclampsia, which is considered one of the major risks of maternal and fetal mortality, may begin after 20 weeks of pregnancy and can manifest if a mother’s blood pressure even slightly rises.
Scientists know that pre-eclampsia risk is increased two to fourfold among women with type 1 or type 2 diabetes, and that women with type 1 diabetes and a history of preeclampsia have an increased risk of diabetes complications such as retinopathy and nephropathy.
But it was unclear whether pre-eclampsia in non-diabetic women led to an increased risk for type 2 diabetes following pregnancy.
In the current study, published in the journal Diabetologia, researchers have shown that pre-eclampsia is associated with a twofold increase in diabetes occurring from less than one year after delivery of the baby to over ten years after giving birth.
Dr Pensee Wu, the first author of the study, and colleagues made the discovery after conducting a systematic meta-analysis of studies that evaluated diabetes in women with and without pre-eclampsia.
A total of 21 studies were identified and reviewed involving more than 2.8 million women, including more than 72,500 women with pre-eclampsia.
Even after adjusting for confounders, such as body mass index(BMI) or pre-existing gestational diabetes, pre-eclampsia remained linked with an increased risk of future type 2 diabetes.
A high risk ratio of 2.37 was found at one year postpartum, which fell ten years later but still stayed significantly elevated (1.95).
The development of proteinuria and fluid retention typical of preeclampsia is often paralleled by a deterioration of the glomerular filtration rate (GFR) in pregnancy, which measures kidney function.
Previous research has suggested that checking the GFR, which is elevated by 40% on average in women with gestational hypertensio, could be a possible adjacent screening method for the future development of diabetes in women with pre-eclampsia.

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