There are a multitude of risk factors for type 2 diabetes. In many women, a history of gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM) has been shown to be a major additional risk factor for type 2 diabetes. GDM is a particular kind of diabetes that is diagnosed in women during pregnancy, which requires treatment with a strict diet and sometimes with medications in late pregnancy. Without proper prenatal care, GDM may remain undiagnosed. Similarly, a history of GDM may not be discussed when screening a woman for type 2 diabetes risk factors many years after a pregnancy.
South Asians are at particularly high risk for both gestational diabetes and type 2 diabetes. In this study, we wanted to determine if South Asian women had a higher risk of type 2 diabetes if they previously had a pregnancy complicated by gestational diabetes. We found that South Asian women with a history of GDM were three times more likely to have type 2 diabetes than women without a history of GDM.
Our findings underscore the need to support efforts to identify a history of GDM while screening for type 2 diabetes.