Researchers studied 1,164 women without diabetes before pregnancy who delivered 1,809 live births during the course of five consecutive exams from 1985-2006 as part of a Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults study. Participant characteristics including lifestyle, socio-demographic, medical conditions, medication use, family history of diabetes, pregnancies and births and GDM status, as well as clinical assessments, body measurements and blood specimens were obtained at baseline. Follow-up exams used standardized research methodologies, including self- and interviewer-administered questionnaires.
Impaired fasting glucose, elevated fasting insulin and low HDL-cholesterol before pregnancy were associated with higher risk of GDM. Of the 1,809 live births studied, 154 (8.5 percent) involved a GDM pregnancy.
Among overweight women, 26.7 percent with one or more cardio-metabolic risk factors before pregnancy developed gestational diabetes versus 7.4 percent who did not have cardio-metabolic risk factors.
Although obesity and belly fat are antecedents to insulin resistance, pre-pregnancy obesity was not independently predictive of GDM after taking into account cardio-metabolic risk factors. Researchers also found no association between pre-pregnancy blood pressure or hypertension and risk of GDM, possibly due to the low prevalence of these conditions in healthy women of reproductive age.
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