Risk of diabetes in pregnancy higher in some women

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Certain ethnic groups and women with lower socioeconomic status are at increased risk of developing diabetes while pregnant, research shows.

Thirty percent of women who develop “gestational diabetes” will develop type 2 diabetes within the next 7 to 10 years, Dr. Hidde P. van der Ploeg of the University of Sydney, Australia, told Reuters Health. “In some groups, the incidence may increase to 50 percent in 5 years.”

Dr. van der Ploeg and colleagues examined data on more than 950,000 births which took place in New South Wales between 1995 and 2005.

Over this period, the prevalence of gestational diabetes rose from 3 percent to 4.4 percent — a 45 percent increase.

Women born in South Asia were about four times more likely than women born in Australia to develop gestational diabetes. Women born in the Middle East and North Africa had 2.4-fold higher odds of pregnancy-related diabetes.

In addition, compared to women with the highest socioeconomic status, those of lower status were 54 to 74 percent more likely to develop diabetes while pregnant. Increased age was also an important risk factor. Compared to women in their 20s, those over 40 years of age had about a six-fold increase in their risk of pregnancy-related diabetes.

Pregnancy-related diabetes is an increasingly prevalent risk factor for type 2 diabetes, and ethnicity and socioeconomic status appear to considerably influence the risk of gestational diabetes, the investigators conclude.

“Cultural specific interventions,” noted van der Ploeg, “should be developed to prevent the development of type 2 diabetes in these women at high risk.”

SOURCE: Diabetes Care, December 2008.

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