Gestational diabetes develops during pregnancy in non-diabetic women. It is characterized by high levels of glucose (sugar) in the blood and it affects around 20% of pregnant women. For women who develop this condition during pregnancy, the risk of becoming a type 2 diabetic increases after giving birth. In fact, recent studies have proven that this risk not only applies to mothers, but to fathers as well.
The study that led to this finding was conducted by Dr. Kaberi Dasgupta, an endocrinologist at the McGill University Health Centre in Canada. Her research team analyzed data collected over 20 years from Quebec, Canada and concluded that the factors that lead to gestational diabetes increasing the risk of type 2 diabetes in both mothers and fathers are not only metabolic, but behavioral as well.
From 1990 to 2007, the records of mothers with a positive diagnosis for gestational diabetes were randomly selected and compared with mothers from the same province who did not have the disease. They then identified fathers who became type 2 diabetic after the mother’s post-delivery and discharge from the hospital until the fathers’ departure from Quebec, death, or the end of the study period, which was March 31, 2012.
Dr. Dasgupta explains that couples appear to share the risk for developing type 2 diabetes after the onset of gestational diabetes in mothers partly because of their shared social and cultural environment, which may influence health behaviors and lifestyles. “The study reinforces the findings of our previous study on shared risk for diabetes in spouses, and prior studies indicating that less healthy eating habits and low physical activity could be shared within a household. Our data suggests that gestational diabetes could be leveraged as a tool to enhance diabetes detection and prevention in fathers” stated Dr. Dasgupta in the study’s press release.
This conclusion is also supported by prior research projects, which revealed that couples usually have similar physical activity habits and lifestyles, and all of these parameters directly influence health. Gestational Diabetes usually occurs in young to middle adulthood couples, and it is during these years that diabetes’ risk factors are highly important, offering an opportunity for long term prevention. In addition to this, in 2014, Dr. Dasgupta’s team had already shown that spousal diabetes was an extra diabetes risk factor, which is now reinforced with this last study recently published in Diabetes Care.