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Could a Common Pregnancy Condition Cause Diabetes?

pregnancy diabetesIf your wellness is affected by one of two common conditions in pregnancy, your future wellbeing may be at risk to diabetes. This is according to a Canadian study of over one million women, published in PLOS Medicine, which found that pre-eclampsia and gestational hypertension may be risk factors for future diabetes.

Pre-eclampsia is a pregnancy condition in which you have high blood pressure, fluid retention and protein in your urine, while gestational hypertension describes high blood pressure associated with pregnancy. The researchers found that either of these conditions could double your chances of developing  diabetes years after pregnancy, and this risk is even higher if you have gestational diabetesdiabetes only associated with pregnancy, and already a known risk factor for later diabetes.

About 8% of all pregnancies are affected by disorders involving a raised blood pressure in pregnancy, such as pre-eclampsia and gestational hypertension. The study, led by Denice Feig from the University of Toronto, is important is it highlights new potential risk factors for diabetes. This indicates that your doctor could be advised to screen for the disease if you have a history of pre-eclampsia or gestational hypertension.

For their study, the researchers identified all women delivering in an Ontario hospital between April 1994 and March 2008 who had pre-eclampsia, gestational hypertension, gestational diabetes, or a combination of these conditions. They did this using a comprehensive Canadian health database, and then investigated whether these women went on to develop diabetes in the period from 180 days after delivery until March 2011.

The results showed that 3.5% of women developed diabetes in the follow-up period. This was 1.95 times more likely to develop in women with gestational hypertension alone, 2.08 times more likely in women with pre-eclampsia alone, and 12.77 times more likely in women with gestational diabetes alone. When these risk factors were combined with gestational diabetes, they jumped to 18.49 times higher for gestational hypertension and 15.75 times higher for pre-eclampsia.

According to the study authors, ‘In this large, population-based study, we found that the presence of either pre-eclampsia or gestational hypertension during pregnancy were strong predictors for the development of diabetes [in the] years following the pregnancy, and the presence of pre-eclampsia or gestational hypertension in a woman with a history of gestational diabetes, increased the risk of diabetes over and above that observed with gestational diabetes alone.’

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