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16-05-2011 | Diabetes | Article

Interpregnancy weight gain increases diabetes risk


Free abstract

MedWire News: Study results suggest that women who become obese after giving birth significantly increase their chances of developing gestational or Type 2 diabetes during their next pregnancy.

"Establishing a normal body mass index (BMI) between pregnancies may reduce the risk of adverse outcomes in future pregnancies," say Hamisu Salihu (University of South Florida, Tampa, USA) and colleagues.

Salihu and co-workers followed-up 232,272 women who had two live, singleton births (20-44 weeks gestation) for gestational and Type 2 diabetes development during their second pregnancy. They assessed what impact weight gain or loss between pregnancies might have on this risk.

As reported in the Archives of Gynecology and Obstetrics, the researchers found that across all BMI categories, mothers who moved up a category between pregnancies had a significantly increased risk for developing diabetes compared with those who maintained a normal weight during this time.

Women at the highest risk for gestational or Type 2 diabetes were those who went from having a normal BMI (18.5-24.9 kg/m2) before their first pregnancy to an obese BMI (30 kg/m2 or above) before their second pregnancy. These women had a 3.21-fold increased risk for developing either type of diabetes, compared with their peers who maintained a normal weight.

Of note, women who were obese before both pregnancies did not have a significantly increased risk for developing diabetes during their second pregnancy (1.09-fold nonsignificant increase in risk) and women who went from being overweight (BMI 25.0-29.9 kg/m2) to obese only had a moderate, although significant, 1.38-fold increase in risk.

It therefore seems to be substantial or rapid weight gain, rather than BMI per se, that is responsible for the significant increase in risk for diabetes observed in this study, suggest the researchers.

In contrast, women who maintained their weight from pregnancy to pregnancy, those who lost weight, and those who went from being underweight to normal weight had a significantly lower risk for developing diabetes than women who gained any weight.

"The finding of an association between weight gain between pregnancies and the development of diabetes suggests that providers should counsel women in regard to overall weight loss and weight loss between pregnancies," write Salihu et al.

MedWire ( is an independent clinical news service provided by Springer Healthcare Limited. © Springer Healthcare Ltd; 2011

By Helen Albert