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The Link between Gestational Diabetes and Type 2 Diabetes

"As many as half of Asian women who had gestational diabetes will develop type 2 diabetes within eight years of giving birth." …

  • Asian women who have gestational diabetes are at risk of developing type 2 diabetes after giving birth.
  • Women who rapidly develop type 2 diabetes after giving birth have a significant defect in insulin secretion gene of hematopoietically expressed homeobox (HHEX).
  • Women who develop type 2 diabetes slower are more likely to have a variation in CDKAL1 gene.
A group of researchers conducted a prospective cohort study tracking 843 women who had gestational diabetes from 1996 to 2003 at Cheil General Hospital in Seoul, South Korean. The results showed that "as many as half of Asian women who had gestational diabetes will develop type 2 diabetes within eight years of giving birth," said the study’s lead author, Soo Heon Kwak, MD, of Seoul National University Hospital.

According to Dr. Kwak and colleagues, women who rapidly developed type 2 diabetes after giving birth tend to have a significant defect in the insulin secretion gene of hematopoietically expressed homeobox (HHEX) while those who were slower to develop type 2 diabetes are more likely to have a variation in the insulin secretion gene of CDKAL1. Although further studies into genetic and other risk factors are needed to better understand and predict pregnant women who are at risk of developing type 2 diabetes, "it is crucial for women who had gestational diabetes to have their blood sugar levels checked two months after giving birth and annually thereafter." said Dr. Kwak.

The article, "Clinical and Genetic Risk Factors for Type 2 Diabetes at Early or Late Post-partum after Gestational Diabetes Mellitus," appears in the April 2013 issue of JCEM.