A new study has revealed that women with a history of gestational diabetes face a heightened risk of developing type 2 diabetes for years after giving birth, but intensive lifestyle intervention or a medication regimen can have a protective effect in this population. Gestational diabetes is a form of diabetes that occurs during pregnancy, typically during the second trimester, and affects 9.2 percent of pregnant women. The condition causes glucose levels in the bloodstream to rise above normal levels. Study's authors, Vanita Aroda said, "Our long-term follow-up study found the elevated risk of developing Type 2 diabetes persisted for years in women who had been diagnosed with gestational diabetes, and this long-term risk can be reduced with either intensive lifestyle intervention or the medication metformin."
The Diabetes Prevention Program Outcomes Study (DPPOS) analyzed long-term metabolic health in 288 women who had a previous diagnosis of gestational diabetes and 1,226 mothers who did not have a history of gestational diabetes. Women with the condition were assigned to intensive lifestyle intervention, the diabetes medication metformin or a placebo. The intensive lifestyle intervention was aimed at reducing body weight by 7 percent and participating in moderate cardio exercise for 150 minutes every week.
During the DPPOS, the women continued to have their blood glucose levels measured twice a year for 6-years. Women with a history of gestational diabetes who were assigned to take metformin or undergo the intensive lifestyle intervention were less likely to develop type 2 diabetes than women who received the placebo. When assigned the placebo, women who had a history of gestational diabetes had a 48 percent higher risk of developing diabetes compared to women who were never diagnosed with the condition. Women who had been diagnosed with gestational diabetes and underwent intensive lifestyle intervention had a 35.2 percent reduction in their risk of developing type 2 diabetes, while the risk was reduced by 40.4 percent among women with a history of the condition who were assigned to take metformin.
Aroda said, "Medical and lifestyle interventions were remarkably effective at slowing the progression of type 2 diabetes in this at-risk population in both the short and long term."
The study is published in the Endocrine Society's 'Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism'.