Researchers in Germany have developed a new simple test for predicting the risk of developing type 2 diabetes following childbirth.
Gestational diabetes is one of the most common conditions that can occur during pregnancy and women who suffer from the condition have a higher risk of developing it afterwards as well.
Scientists from the Institute of Diabetes Research (IDF), Helmholtz Zentrum München, which is one of the partners of the German Center for Diabetes Research (DZD), collected data from 257 cases of gestational diabetes between 1989 and 1999 and followed the women up for a period of 20 years after delivery.
The analysis showed that 110 of the women observed during this period developed postpartum diabetes. In order to be able to predict in which mother the disease would manifest itself after delivery, the team headed by Professor Anette-Gabriele Ziegler, director of the Institute of Diabetes Research, tested various parameters that are known to play a significant role in the genesis of the disease.
“Body mass index (BMI) and genetic predisposition both play a role in our calculation, as does the question of whether the mother breastfed her baby and whether her gestational diabetes had to be treated with insulin,” said Meike Köhler, first author of the study.
On the basis of these parameters, the researchers introduced a point system to enable them to predict a woman’s likelihood of developing postpartum diabetes. For low risk scores, the probability of developing diabetes within five years after delivery was only about 11%, in the medium risk category it ranged from 29% to 64%, while for the highest risk scores it was more than 80%.
“The test we developed is very easy to apply and in the future could be used in hospitals as a tool for predicting postpartum diabetes,” Professor Ziegler added. “This means that both the doctor and the patient are aware of the respective risk, and it allows diabetes checks to be more closely tailored to the patient’s individual needs.”
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