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31-01-2010 | Diabetes | Article

Giving birth to many children may increase Type 2 diabetes risk


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MedWire News: Women from the Philippines who have six or more children are at increased risk for Type 2 diabetes independent of other risk factors, say researchers.

“Prior studies have reported elevated Type 2 diabetes prevalence among multiparous women,” say Maria Araneta and Elizabeth Barrett-Connor (University of California San Diego, USA). “However, the elevated risk has been attributed to postpartum weight retention.”

In this study, they investigated the links between parity and Type 2 diabetes risk in 152 women participating in the University of California San Diego Filipino Women’s Health Study who were aged 59.5 years on average.

The parity of the women ranged from 1 to 12 births, with a mean parity of 4.3. The team divided the women into three groups of low parity (1–2 births; n=40), medium parity (3–5 births; n=76), and grand multiparity (6–12 births; n=36).

They found that family history of diabetes, exercise, insulin resistance, ghrelin and leptin levels were not significantly different between the three parity groups.

Women in the grand multiparity group were significantly older, more likely to have hypertension, less likely to have completed college, had a higher volume of visceral adipose tissue (VAT), and had lower adiponectin than women in the low parity group.

Prevalence of Type 2 diabetes increased with parity and was 25%, 30.3%, and 50.0% in the low parity, medium parity, and grand multiparity groups, respectively.

Following multivariate analysis adjusting for VAT, adiponectin, age, education, family history of diabetes, presence of hypertension, and estrogen use, the researchers found that women in the grand multiparity group were 3.4 times more likely to have Type 2 diabetes than women in the low parity group.

Of note, comparisons between women in the medium and low parity groups showed no significant differences in risk for Type 2 diabetes.

“Hypertension, family history of diabetes and low adiponectin levels were… associated with Type 2 diabetes but did not explain the excess diabetes prevalence in grand multiparous women,” say Araneta and Barrett-Connor.

They conclude in the journal Diabetes Care: “Grand multiparity may exacerbate diabetes risk through myriad mechanisms that have yet to be identified.”

MedWire ( is an independent clinical news service provided by Current Medicine Group, a trading division of Springer Healthcare Limited. © Springer Healthcare Ltd; 2010

By Helen Albert