Question

Gestational Diabetes

Does gestational diabetes lead to full-blown diabetes?

A Answers (2)

  • AMehmet Oz, MD, Cardiology, answered
    About 25 percent of women with gestational diabetes will go on to develop full-blown diabetes and the greatest risk is within the first 5 years after delivery, especially in overweight mothers.
  • AWilliam Lee Dubois, Endocrinology/diabetes/metabolism, answered

    Gestational diabetes is very poorly named. We should call it preview diabetes. Consider this:  

    Diabetes strikes about one in ten people right now.

    But it strikes one in four women who had gestational diabetes.

    One theory about why this happens deals with how diabetes happens in the first place. If you are genetically predisposed: a person with a beautiful skin color; or someone with a family history of diabetes; the risk of getting it goes up the heavier you get and the older you get.

    In the past, Type-2 Diabetes often showed up around age 40. You know, when your pants start getting shrunk in the laundry. But now things are changing. I’ve got one patient who has full blow Type-2 and she’s only 13-years-old.

    All 325 pounds of her.

    My point here is that we are seeing a very strong trend of Type-2 diagnosis happening at younger and younger ages as our population gets heavier.

    Now consider what happens when you are pregnant. You put on weight. Also, the torrent of hormones coursing through your body is rough! In some ways, it temporarily fast-forwards your age. So while you are pregnant you are heavier and older. The two triggers that bring diabetes out. Once you’ve given birth your diabetes appears to go away. That’s because the weight and “age” have changed.

    But if you return those two factors the diabetes comes back.

    So that’s the nuts and bolts of it. But the take-away message is this: you’ve had the benefit of an advanced warning of what the future might be like. You should be alert to a possible return by getting tested every year but you also have the opportunity to look at your life style and see how healthy it is. Maybe now is the time to eat a little better. Drink less soda. Get out and walk.

    All of those things will hold the diabetes at bay and maybe you’ll get to be one of the women who never gets diabetes at all!

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