Women who have diabetes while pregnant are at at higher risk of developing it later in life, and so are their partners, according to new research. Diabetes is a chronic condition in which the body cannot manage the insulin needed to use sugar for energy. It can be managed, but can cause serious complications.
Between three and 20 per cent of pregnant women will have gestational diabetes. It usually goes away after the baby is born. But they are seven times more likely to develop type 2 diabetes later in life.
Diabetes risk increases by 33 per cent
A study of 70,000 cases over 13 years now shows their partners have a 33 per cent greater chance of developing the condition than do fathers whose partners had no gestational diabetes.
“The theory behind starting this study was that families share lifestyle habits,” says Dr. Kaberi Dasgupta “We know that couples often share eating and physical activity habits, they live in the same environment socially and culturally. And we had demonstrated in a previous study that when one person has type 2 diabetes the other member of the couple often also has type 2 diabetes.Listen
‘A kind of exciting finding’
“But in this study we wanted to see in a younger group of adults, all of whom were under 40 years of age, what would happen in the future.” Researchers were not surprised to find that where a woman had gestational diabetes both she and her partner were more likely to develop it later on.
“We find it a kind of exciting finding,” says Dasgupta. “The idea is to think of pregnancy not just as a problem for women and mother, or even exclusively for women and their offspring, but it’s an issue for the entire family. And hopefully this information will help fathers and mothers collaborate to have healthier lifestyles.”
Lifestyle changes reduce risk by half
It is known that physical activity, eating more fruits, vegetables and fibre, eating out less can reduce the risk of developing diabetes by half.
The total number of Canadians living with diabetes was estimated to be 2.7 million or 7.6 per cent of the population in 2010. Almost a million may have the disease but not know it. The number of diabetics is expected to rise to 4.2 million by 2020. Rates of type 2 diabetes are increasing worldwide.