Women who gain significant weight after having their first child could be at greater risk of gestational diabetes during their next pregnancy, research shows.
Having a high BMI after their first pregnancy put women between twice and five times as likely to develop the condition during the second pregnancy, with researchers asserting more research is needed to understand this metabolic change.
“Our results suggest weight change as a metabolic mechanism behind the increased risk of GDM, thus weight change should be acknowledged as an independent factor for screening GDM in clinical guidelines,” said the study authors, from the University of Bergen in Norway.
“Promoting healthy weight from preconception through the postpartum period should be a target.”
The findings followed a review of 24,198 mothers in Norway who had their first and second pregnancies between 2006 and 2014.
Women who gained up to two BMI units of weight between pregnancies had a two-fold risk of gestational diabetes compared to women who only gained one unit or less. Those who gained four BMI units had a five-fold increased risk.
The risk of gestational diabetes increased more for women with a BMI of 25 or above at their first pregnancy, which is considered to be overweight.
Dr. Jacinda Nicklas, a researcher at the University of Colorado School of Medicine who wasn’t involved in the study, told Reuters: “Further research is needed to tease out exactly how changes in weight, particularly over short time interpregnancy intervals, have adverse metabolic effects in future pregnancies.”
Shorter periods between pregnancies was also hypothesised as a reason why women were not able to lose weight, with researchers urging for greater promotion among healthcare professionals of maintaining a healthy weight after first birth.
The findings appear online in PLOS Medicine.

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