Four percent of all pregnant women in Germany develop gestational diabetes before giving birth. Gestational diabetes is a disorder of the glucose metabolism that occurs or is diagnosed for the first time during pregnancy. The causes for this are manifold: Besides genetic predisposition, the main factors are overweight, lack of exercise and unfavorable dietary behavior.
Elevated Risk for Type 2 Diabetes
Due to the reduced insulin action, the body must produce more insulin. If this is not possible, the blood glucose levels become elevated, potentially leading to diabetes. Even though insulin therapy is rarely required and most women have normal blood glucose levels after giving birth, the risk for these women to develop type 2 diabetes later in life is increased.
In the German PREG-Study on gestational diabetes, scientists of the German Center for Diabetes Research are looking for risk factors and are working on appropriate preventive measures. Initial results are already available: For example, women with gestational diabetes who breastfeed their child have a 40 percent reduced risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
How high is the risk of developing type 2 diabetes after gestational diabetes?
Researchers have developed a method that makes it possible to accurately predict the likelihood of lasting diabetes after pregnancy. Using different parameters (body mass index (BMI), genetic predisposition, breastfeeding, treatment of gestational diabetes with insulin), the probability of postpartum diabetes can be predicted.
Gestational diabetes also affects the unborn child. Studies by DZD researchers show that in gestational diabetes, the fetal brain reaction is slowed after a meal of the mother. It is possible that already in the womb, these children have an insulin resistance of the brain, which could increase the likelihood that the child later on in life will develop overweight and type 2 diabetes.
Test your diabetes risk after having had gestational diabetes.