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Glucose intolerance in pregnancy raises later diabetes risk

Developing any degree of glucose intolerance during pregnancy dramatically increases a woman's risk of post-pregnancy diabetes, new research reveals.

Gestational diabetes is a well-established risk factor for subsequent diabetes. But a new study has shown for the first time that even mild levels of abnormal glucose control during pregnancy put women at risk of developing diabetes after pregnancy.

In the trial, researchers classified 487 pregnant women in either their second or third trimester as having either normal, impaired or abnormal glucose tolerance or full-blown gestational diabetes. They found that at three months after birth, the risk of post-partum diabetes increased across the spectrum of severity.

All three categories of abnormal glucose tolerance during pregnancy increased the risk of future diabetes. Women with abnormal glucose tolerance were at 3.6 times the risk, impaired glucose tolerance increased the risk by 5.7 times and gestational diabetes by 14.3 times.

A second study has shown that a diagnosis of gestational diabetes also increases the risk of cardiovascular disease – even in young women in their thirties.

A trial of more than 8,000 women diagnosed with gestational diabetes and compared with matched controls found a diagnosis of gestational diabetes doubled the risk of a myocardial infarction during 11.5 years of follow-up.

Study author Dr Gillian Booth, a researcher at the department of medicine, University of Toronto, told delegates: ‘This study shows that gestational diabetes substantially increases the risk for CVD, even in young women. Much of this increased risk is attributable to subsequent development of type 2 diabetes, which reinforces the need for early diabetes prevention strategies in this at-risk population.'

Both studies were presented at the American Diabetes Association conference in San Francisco last week.

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