After controlling for preconception measurements of body mass index (BMI), all metabolic syndrome components and physical activity, Lewis and her colleagues found that women who had given birth to one child or more than one child were independently associated with a higher incidence of the metabolic syndrome (33 percent and 62 percent higher, respectively) than women who had not had children. Among women with gestational diabetes, once baseline adjustments were made, the researchers found that they were nearly two-and-a-half times more likely to develop the metabolic syndrome than those women who had not had gestational diabetes-complicated pregnancies.
"Our findings suggest that childbearing can contribute to the development of the metabolic syndrome and that part of the association may be through weight gain and lack of physical activity," Lewis said. "And, although women with gestational diabetes had the highest relative risk of developing the metabolic syndrome, those with non-gestational diabetes pregnancies made up the larger at-risk group."
Lewis and her colleagues suggested that future studies may determine whether reductions in weight retention and central obesity, and reductions through treatment of cholesterol and triglycerides, after pregnancy may prevent disease later in life. They also suggested postpartum screening of cardio-metabolic risk factors, especially among women with gestational diabetes, may offer an important opportunity for disease prevention among women of reproductive and older ages.
Until then, Lewis said, the best way for everyone to prevent disease, including women of childbearing age, is to make the necessary lifestyle changes: exercise regularly and eat a healthy diet.
|Contact: Jennifer Lollar|
University of Alabama at Birmingham