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Gestational Diabetes Provides a Chance to Educate Patients

Last Updated: May 26, 2009.

Because women with gestational diabetes are at increased risk of subsequently developing type 2 diabetes, increasing awareness among both physicians and patients about the risk can be used as an opportunity to promote behavior that may delay or prevent the disease, according to a study published in the May 23 issue of The Lancet.

TUESDAY, May 26 (HealthDay News) -- Because women with gestational diabetes are at increased risk of subsequently developing type 2 diabetes, increasing awareness among both physicians and patients about the risk can be used as an opportunity to promote behavior that may delay or prevent the disease, according to a study published in the May 23 issue of The Lancet.

Leanne Bellamy, of Northwick Park Hospital in London, and colleagues conducted a meta-analysis of 20 studies in which women were diagnosed with type 2 diabetes after gestational diabetes. The studies comprised 675,455 women, and there were 10,859 type 2 diabetic events.

The relative risk of developing type 2 diabetes was 7.43 times higher among women who had gestational diabetes compared to those with a normoglycemic pregnancy, the researchers discovered, and in the largest study of 659,164 women and 9,502 type 2 diabetes cases, the relative risk was 12.6.

"A history of gestational diabetes therefore provides a low-cost, natural screening test for future type 2 diabetes. Resolution of the metabolic changes after pregnancy could provide an opportunity to test the effectiveness of interventions for the primary prevention of type 2 diabetes with changes in diet and lifestyle, and the introduction of treatments to prevent or delay the onset of type 2 diabetes," the authors write. "These interventions might have an important effect on women's health."

One co-author reported financial ties to the pharmaceutical industry.

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