Studies Show Gestational Diabetes Risk Increases with Every Pregnancy

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People often say that each pregnancy is different. What you may experience during your first pregnancy may not be the same as your experiences in your subsequent pregnancies. However, a recent study published in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology showed that women with gestational diabetes during their first pregnancy have higher risks of developing the same condition in their subsequent pregnancies. In fact, according to this study, the risk increases with each pregnancy.

In the research, 65,132 first-time pregnant women with gestational diabetes were used as the sample population by a group of researchers led by Dr. Darius Getahun. One of the findings was that the risk of these women getting gestational diabetes during their second pregnancy is 13.2% increased. There is also an increase of 6.3% in the third pregnancy of women who initially had gestational diabetes but did not suffer from the condition during their second pregnancies. Those who have experienced gestational diabetes during the first and second pregnancies had a 26% risk for developing the same condition during the third pregnancy. Getahun was quick to point out that having gestational diabetes during the first pregnancy already means that the woman will likely also have the same condition in her second pregnancy.

Aside from the aforementioned risks, women with gestational diabetes are also at risk for developing type 2 diabetes mellitus. That is why it is highly recommended by the American Diabetes Association and the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology for women with gestational diabetes to undergo counseling when it comes to lifestyle modifications, like diet, exercise, and weight loss or maintenance.

One of the limitations of the study was that the researchers did not look into other lifestyle factors that may have had contributed to a woman’s increased risk on gestational diabetes. They did not consider that the obesity of a woman can actually contribute in increasing the risk of developing gestational diabetes. Instead, the researchers recommend that early identification of pregnant women who are at risk for developing gestational diabetes and timely postpartum care should be exercised so as to prevent gestational diabetes and other adverse pregnancy situations from happening.

The study also showed that a person’s race or ethnicity may play a role in the return of gestational diabetes. According to the survey in the said study, Hispanic and Asian/Pacific islander women had the highest risk of developing gestational diabetes among other races. This can be due to the fact that the food in these races contains a high glycemic index, which means that they easily affect the levels of glucose in the bloodstream, thus causing sudden spikes.

According to Dr. Manju Monga of the University of Texas Health Sciences Center in Houston, the findings in the aforementioned study reflect consistency in the results of more recent studies as of late.

As a recommendation, Dr. Monga further advises women with gestational diabetes to have themselves screened for type 2 diabetes after six months of giving birth. This will give them a head start on modifying their lifestyle to avoid developing type 2 diabetes later on in life.

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