Gestational Diabetes: Often a Recurrent Problem for Mamas on or off Bedrest

August 2nd, 2010

In January of this year I wrote “Gestational Diabetes: A Particular Problem for Mamas on Bedrest”. This post provided an overview of Gestational Diabetes, the diagnostic criteria for Gestational Diabetes and the complications and unfortunate outcomes that can occur if Gestational Diabetes is not treated.

What I didn’t mention at that time, and what has just come to my attention, is the fact that once a woman has had Gestational Diabetes in one pregnancy, she is at increased risk for developing Gestational Diabetes in her subsequent pregnancies.

In the July 12, 2010 issue of the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, lead author Darios Getahun, MD, MPH, from the Kaiser Permanente Southern California Department of Research & Evaluation in Pasadena notes, 

 “Well-controlled gestational diabetes may prevent complications that result in fetal and maternal morbidity, such as high blood pressure during pregnancy, urinary tract infections, cesarean delivery, big babies, birth trauma, and a variety of other adverse outcomes, including future diabetes. Because of the silent nature of gestational diabetes, it is important to identify early those who are at risk and watch them closely during their prenatal care.”

Dr. Getahun and his colleagues reviewed obstetrical records from Kaiser Permanente in Southern California from 1991 to 2008 in an effort to determine of development of Gestational Diabetes was more prevalent in subsequent pregnancies. They also sought to determine if Gestational Diabetes is more prevalent among women of any particular race.

What Getahun and his colleagues found is that women who had Gestational Diabetes with their first pregnancies and had a second pregnancy had a 41.3% risk of developing Gestational Diabetes with their second pregnancy vs 4.2% risk in women who did not have Gestational Diabetes in their first pregnancies. Women who had Gestational Diabetes in their first two pregnancies had an even higher risk of developing Gestational Diabetes in their third pregnancies.

While the authors note that the study is limitied by the fact that the data used is analyzed retrospectively and there was no note of pre-pregnancy weights, pregnancy weight gain, what if any lifestyle interventions were implented or any other potentially confounding factors, based on the data reviewed, they are confident in reporting that women who develop Gestational Diabetes during their first pregnanies are at increased risk of developing Gestational Diabetes in subsequent pregnancies.

Dr. Getahun and his colleagues also noted that recurrence of Gestational Diabetes is more prevalent in Hispanic women and Asian/Pacific Islander women.

If you develop Gestational Diabetes during your first pregnancy, be sure that you and your obstetrician/midwife implement a plan to screen early in your subsequent pregnancies for Gestational Diabetes. If you do develop Gestational Diabetes in subsequent pregnancies , It is imperative that you Obstetrician/midwife monitor and manage your blood sugars with meticulous care so that you and your babies are at the lowest possible risk for complications.

For more information about Gestational Diabetes, check out our Resource Page. Gestational Diabetes is under the Pregnancy tab.

The full citation of Dr. Getahun’s paper can be found on the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology website.

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