New study on risk factors for gestational diabetes

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... One type of diabetes, gestational diabetes (GDM), is first diagnosed during pregnancy. It can cause complications to the mother and fetus during pregnancy and can develop into type 2 diabetes following pregnancy. A new study ... reported that age and body mass index (BMI) are significant risk factors in whether a woman will develop GDM. Furthermore, those factors are particularly relevant in Black African and South Asian women. Early detection is essential for the effective treatment of GDM. Known risk factors include BMI, advanced maternal age, previous GDM, delivery of a large infant, family history of diabetes, and race. ... despite knowledge of these risk factors, few studies have looked at how they interact to influence GDM risk; therefore, they conducted a retrospective study of associations between GDM and maternal age, BMI, and race, as well as how the factors interact with one another. The study compared 1,688 women who developed GDM between 1988 and 2000 with 172,632 women who did not ...

... The researchers found an association between greater maternal age and risk of GDM and between increasing BMI and risk of GDM; however, the effects varied greatly between women of different races. The baseline comparison group was white Europeans aged 20 to 24 years. White European women aged 30 to 34 years had twice the risk of developing GDM; furthermore, those 40 years of age and older had a four-fold increase in risk. Increasing age was associated with a much larger increase in risk among black African women. Compared to baseline women, those aged 25 to 29 years had 3.40 times greater risk, those aged 35 to 39 years had a 13.67 times greater risk, and those aged 40 years and older had a 59.20 times greater risk of developing GDM.

Compared with white Europeans with normal BMIs, black Africans and South Asians were more likely to develop GDM regardless of BMI. The authors concluded: “Advancing maternal age and BMI are more important risk factors for GDM in South Asian and Black African women than in White European or Black Caribbean women.”

This study contributes valuable information for the detection of gestational diabetes. Much work has been done in this area on the past two years and testing recommendations are in the process of being changed.

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