- Gestational diabetes is diabetes that develops during pregnancy.
- People who have been diagnosed with gestational diabetes have a higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes later in life.
- A recent study shows that, for women who have had gestational diabetes, adopting certain lifestyle practices is associated with a 90% reduction in the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
- The results held true even among women who were obese or at higher genetic risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
Pregnancy can bring with it a number of unique challenges and health issues.
Pregnant people and their fetuses require various forms of monitoring during pregnancy to ensure healthy pregnancies and deliveries. One condition that women are monitored for is gestational diabetes, a type of diabetes that develops during pregnancy. People who have gestational diabetes are more likely to develop type 2 diabetes later in life.
A recent study published in
The researchers found that the risk of developing type 2 diabetes decreased in women who adopted certain healthy lifestyle practices.
This risk assessment held true even among women who were obese or at higher genetic risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
Gestational diabetes is diabetes that explicitly develops during pregnancy. Gestational diabetes can be caused by existing insulin resistance and increased insulin resistance linked to hormonal changes and fat gain during pregnancy.
After the pregnancy ends, blood sugar levels usually return to a healthy range. However, for those who had gestational diabetes, there is an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes later in life.
The Doctor. Wiyatta Freeman, an obstetrics and gynecology specialist at the UT Physicians Women’s Center and Memorial Hermann Southeast Hospital in Houston, Texas, who was not involved in the study, said MNT that a history of gestational diabetes “is predictive of an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome, cardiovascular disease (CVD) and even type 1 diabetes.”
Therefore, individuals who have had gestational diabetes should schedule regular follow-ups with their physician to screen for the development of type 2 diabetes and other chronic conditions.
Dr. Kay Lovig, an endocrinologist at White Plains Hospital Physicians Associates in New York who was not involved in the study, explained the medical news today🇧🇷
“Gestational diabetes is diabetes that occurs during pregnancy. During pregnancy, the hormones produced by the placenta result in insulin resistance in everyone. Insulin resistance means that your body doesn’t respond as efficiently to the insulin you are producing to have a normal blood sugar level… People who develop gestational diabetes have an increase in insulin resistance compared to someone who doesn’t. Gestational diabetes. Therefore, those suffering from gestational diabetes are at a higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes, which is also a result of insulin resistance.”
Researchers are still looking at how best to reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes among those who had gestational diabetes.
This particular study looked at five modifiable risk factors among women with a history of gestational diabetes:
- not being overweight or obese
- eating a high quality diet
- exercising regularly
- drink moderate amounts of alcohol
- Do not smoke
The study included more than 4,000 participants from the Nurses’ Health Study II. The researchers followed the participants for an average of nearly 28 years. During that follow-up period, 924 participants developed type 2 diabetes.
They found that participants with optimal levels in all five categories had more than 90% less risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
They found that “each additional ideal modifiable factor was associated with a decreasing risk of type 2 diabetes.”
The risk association held true even among women who were overweight or obese or at higher genetic risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
Sherry Roberts, a registered dietitian nutritionist and certified specialist in diabetes care and education, who was not involved in the research, shared her thoughts on the study to MNT🇧🇷
“I feel the study was well done and thorough as it followed nurses with gestational diabetes for almost 28 years. It looked at the modifiable risk factors of not being overweight or obese, a high-quality diet, regular exercise, moderate alcohol consumption, and not smoking. Overall results indicate that women who managed to maintain ideal levels of modifications have a lower risk of developing diabetes. The clinical implications of this study provide additional support for the importance of maintaining healthy habits to prevent type 2 diabetes. It also demonstrates how important it is to offer prevention programs and support to those trying to prevent type 2 diabetes.”
The study had some limitations. For example, it was an observational study, so the results cannot determine cause. The researchers relied on participants’ self-reports, increasing a certain risk of error.
The authors excluded non-white participants who were likely to be primarily of European descent, which may limit the data’s applicability to other ethnic groups. It also indicates the need for more diverse cohorts for longitudinal studies in the future.
The study also specifically looked at leisure-based physical activity. The researchers note that more data may look into how other physical activities, such as work-related activities, might be further investigated in the future.
They also lacked data on the severity of the participants’ gestational diabetes or their baseline blood sugar control.
Finally, based on data collection methods and participants, the full benefit of these healthy lifestyle choices may be underestimated. Overall, the results demonstrate the importance of maintaining a healthy lifestyle, particularly among those at higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
Roberts noted the following areas for continued research:
“Additional research should be done for women with gestational diabetes who lack health experience and are part of the general population. Similar research should also be done on children born to mothers with gestational diabetes.”