|History of Gestational Diabetes Raises Lifelong Diabetes Risk
in Mother and Child
Lifestyle Changes Can Prevent Or Delay Later Diabetes
It’s Never Too Early to Prevent Diabetes, the latest diabetes prevention campaign
message by the National Diabetes Education Program (NDEP), is spreading the word
about the risk for type 2 diabetes faced by women with a history of gestational
diabetes mellitus (GDM) and their offspring. On April 25th the NDEP joined Deputy
Surgeon General, RADM Kenneth P. Moritsugu and Griffin P. Rodgers, M.D., acting
director of the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases
(NIDDK), one of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), in Washington to announce
this latest message in an ongoing national public awareness effort. The NDEP
is jointly sponsored by the NIH and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention,
agencies of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
It’s Never Too Early to Prevent Diabetes is the latest addition to NDEP’s campaign,
Small Steps. Big Rewards. Prevent type 2 Diabetes, the nation’s first comprehensive
multicultural type 2 diabetes prevention campaign. The campaign offers materials
that can help women with a history of GDM take steps to prevent or delay type
2 diabetes and help their children lower their risk for the disease. Available
campaign materials include a tip sheet in English and Spanish for women who have
had GDM, a tip sheet in English and Spanish for children at risk for type 2 diabetes,
and a booklet for adults to help women and their families make healthy food choices
and be more physically active to prevent or delay type 2 diabetes. These materials
are available on the NDEP website at www.ndep.nih.gov.
“Mothers who’ve had GDM need to know that they and their children have an increased
lifelong risk for developing type 2 diabetes,” explained Moritsugu. “The risk
doesn’t go away. By making modest lifestyle changes to lose a small amount of
weight, usually by making healthy food choices and being more physically active,
women can help prevent or delay the disease. Children can lower their risk for
type 2 diabetes by not becoming overweight or obese.”
GDM is a form of glucose intolerance that occurs during pregnancy. GDM affects
about 7 percent of all U.S. pregnancies annually, resulting in approximately
200,000 cases a year. After pregnancy, 5 to 10 percent of women who had GDM continue
to have type 2 diabetes. Women with a history of GDM have a 20 to 50 percent
chance of developing diabetes in the future, and their children are at increased
risk for obesity and diabetes during childhood and adolescence compared to other
The Diabetes Prevention Program (DPP), an NIDDK-funded clinical trial, found
that people at increased risk for type 2 diabetes can prevent or delay the onset
of the disease by losing 5 to 7 percent of their body weight through increased
physical activity and a low fat, low calorie eating plan. The DPP included several
hundred women with a history of GDM, and the powerful reduction in risk of diabetes
demonstrated in the study — up to 58 percent — was found in all subgroups including
this group of women.
“Diabetes prevention is proven, possible, and powerful,” said Dr. Rodgers. “Small
steps like eating fresh fruits and vegetables and whole grains, taking the stairs
instead of the elevator, and playing with your kids in the park can yield a lifetime
of healthy rewards for the entire family.”
Recent reports have shown high or increasing rates for GDM in various parts
of the country, including:
- Washington, D.C, where in 2003 the GDM prevalence rate in Hispanic women
was 12 percent — close to the highest rate of 14 percent seen in some American
- New York City, where the GDM prevalence rate increased 46 percent from 1990
to 2002 — with the highest increase found among Asian women.
- Colorado, where the GDM prevalence rate increased 95 percent from 1994 to
2002 — with the highest among Hispanic women.
- Northern California, where the number of new cases each year increased 35
percent from 1991 to 2000.
These regional GDM prevalence rates raise concern that the increase may reflect
the ongoing pattern of increasing obesity and contribute to the upsurge in cases
of diabetes in the U.S.
The NDEP has materials for health care professionals and people at risk for
diabetes — including older adults, American Indians and Alaska Natives, Hispanics/Latinos,
African Americans, and Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. For more information
about the NDEP or to obtain a copy of the new It’s Never Too Early to Prevent
Diabetes and Nunca es muy temprano para prevenir la diabetes tip sheets and other
Small Steps. Big Rewards. diabetes prevention materials, visit www.ndep.nih.gov or call 1-800-438-5383.
The U. S. Department of Health and Human Services’ National Diabetes Education
Program is jointly sponsored by the National Institutes of Health and the Centers
for Disease Control and Prevention with the support of more than 200 partner
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) — The Nation's Medical Research
Agency — includes 27 Institutes and Centers and is a component of
the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. It is the primary federal
agency for conducting and supporting basic, clinical and translational medical
research, and it investigates the causes, treatments, and cures for both common
and rare diseases. For more information about NIH and its programs, visit http://www.nih.gov.