Triad of Factors Ups Risk for Type 2 Diabetes

March 27, 2015

New research shows certain women are 43 times more likely to develop type 2 diabetes mellitus after childbirth.

Clinicians should pay close attention to weight gain in women who were obese prior to becoming pregnancy and in whom gestational diabetes developed because of a strong likelihood of type 2 diabetes developing, researchers warned.

The caution comes after researchers found that women who were obese prior to becoming pregnant, who developed gestational diabetes, and who then gained more than 5 kg (or approximately 11 lb) in the years following their pregnancies were at a significantly increased risk of type 2 diabetes mellitus.

Key Findings:

- In looking at women who had gestational diabetes, research found that both body mass index prior to pregnancy and weight gain after giving birth were significant factors in predicting the likelihood of the development of type 2 diabetes.

- Being overweight before pregnancy, having gestational diabetes, and gaining 5 kg after childbirth put women at significant risk for type 2 diabetes developing.

“Our findings provide evidence to support the importance of achieving and maintaining a healthy weight in these high-risk women to prevent future development of type 2 diabetes,” the authors concluded in publishing their findings in Diabetologia (the journal of the European Association for the Study of Diabetes).

When looking at women who developed gestational diabetes, the researchers found that a woman’s high body mass index prior to becoming pregnant and her weight gain in the years following giving birth were significantly associated with the likelihood of developing type 2 diabetes. Among women who had gestational diabetes, those who had a body mass index of 30 kg/m2 or higher before they became pregnant and then gained 5 kg or more after giving birth were 43 times more likely to develop type 2 diabetes than women who had a BMI of less than 25 kg/m2 prior to pregnancy and who gained less than 5 kg in the years that followed.

“These associations were independent of other major risk factors of type 2 diabetes, including lifestyle factors such as diet and physical activity,” the authors noted in the paper.

Nearly 1,700 women who had gestational diabetes between 1991 and 2001 were included in the study. A follow-up questionnaire was conducted in 2009, where among other things the women self-reported their current weights. The study predominately included white American women.