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12-08-2010 | Diabetes | Article

Grand multiparity linked to increased Type 2 diabetes risk in elderly women


Free abstract

MedWire News: Elderly women who have had five or more live births - grand multiparity - are significantly more likely to develop Type 2 diabetes than those with fewer or no births, report researchers.

They note, however, that the relationship was abolished after correcting for variation in body weight and sociodemographic factors.

Angela Fowler-Brown (Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts, USA) and colleagues analyzed parity data from 3211 women aged 65 years or above (mean 72.5 years) who were enrolled in the Cardiovascular Health Study.

Diabetes status, based on fasting levels of glucose and insulin and use of medication, was measured at baseline and after approximately 10 years in women without diabetes at baseline (n=2761).

The investigators found that there was a higher prevalence of Type 2 diabetes at baseline in women with grand multiparity, at 25%, compared with those with a lower number or no births, at 12% and 15%, respectively.

Following adjustment for age and ethnic background, women with grand multiparity had a significant 57% increased diabetes prevalence compared with other women. However, further adjustment for demographic, clinical, and body anthropometric factors caused the association to become nonsignificant.

In women without diabetes at baseline, parity was not associated with incident Type 2 diabetes over the follow-up period, although there was a small association between parity and higher fasting insulin levels and insulin resistance.

"Much of the higher prevalence of diabetes associated with past child-bearing seems to be mediated (or confounded) by the heavier body mass index associated with grand multiparity," write the authors in the journal Diabetes Care.

"This finding presents an opportunity for education and intervention related to weight control among grand multiparous women to reduce diabetes prevalence."

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