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01-12-2009 | Diabetes | Article

Glucose intolerance in pregnancy increases risk for metabolic syndrome


Free abstract

MedWire News: Women who experience gestational diabetes mellitus or even the milder condition gestational glucose intolerance are at increased risk for developing the metabolic syndrome as little as 3 months after giving birth, say researchers.

“The study findings raise the important possibility that women with gestational glucose intolerance and subsequent postpartum metabolic syndrome represent a patient population at particularly high risk for the future development of metabolic and vascular disease,” said lead author Ravi Retnakaran from Mount Sinai Hospital in Toronto, Canada.

“Further research with long-term follow-up is needed to address this possibility,” he added.

For the study, the team recruited 487 women who underwent oral glucose tolerance testing during pregnancy and who were then tested for various cardiometabolic factors at 3 months postpartum. No participants had a prior history of the metabolic syndrome.

The women were defined as having gestational diabetes mellitus (n=137), gestational glucose intolerance (n=91), or normal glucose tolerance (n=259) at baseline.

The metabolic syndrome was defined both by the International Diabetes Federation (IDF) and the National Cholesterol Education Program Adult Treatment Panel III (NCEP-ATP III) criteria.

At 3 months postpartum, 10.0%, 17.6%, and 20.0% of the normoglycemic, gestational glucose intolerance, and gestational diabetes groups had developed the metabolic syndrome by the IDF criteria, respectively. The corresponding figures using the NCEP-ATP III criteria were 8.9%, 15.4%, and 16.8%.

The presence of gestational glucose intolerance or gestational diabetes significantly increased the risk for developing the metabolic syndrome 2.16 and 2.05 fold, respectively.

Retnakaran concluded that the data suggest “glucose tolerance screening in pregnancy, as is currently practiced, may provide previously unrecognized insight into a woman's postpartum cardiovascular risk-factor profile.”

He added: “Furthermore, glucose tolerance screening may identify subgroups of young women for whom cardiovascular risk-factor monitoring may be warranted.”

The results of this study are published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism.

MedWire ( is an independent clinical news service provided by Current Medicine Group, a trading division of Springer Healthcare Limited. © Springer Healthcare Ltd; 2009

By Helen Albert