May 02, 2018 By Elizabeth McCammon

Research has already shown that women who develop either gestational diabetes or high blood pressure (hypertension) during pregnancy are at risk of getting type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, or heart disease years later. A new study funded by Diabetes Canada shows that the risk of developing those conditions after pregnancy is significantly higher if the woman had both gestational diabetes and high blood pressure during pregnancy.

Dr. Kaberi Dasgupta, of the Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre, and her team analyzed the medical records of 64,000 Quebec couples spanning 13½ years. They found that having either gestational diabetes or high blood pressure during pregnancy increased a woman’s risk for type 2 diabetes in future by 15 times, and doubled her risk of future high blood pressure (compared to women who did not have these conditions during pregnancy). But if she had both conditions during pregnancy, she was 37 times more likely to get diabetes later in life, and six times more likely to develop hypertension.

If researchers study diabetes and hypertension in pregnancy separately, the impact of the diseases could be underestimated, says Dasgupta: “We didn’t just say, ‘You have diabetes. That’s the end of the story. You have hypertension. That’s the end of the story.’ Instead, we asked what the added risk is of having both. That, I think, is the biggest take-home message.”

“Prevention of type 2 diabetes is a critical public health issue for Canadians,” says Dr. Jan Hux, president of Diabetes Canada. “This important study not only confirms that this risk is higher after gestational diabetes, but also measures that risk.”

Did you know?

Since the Charles H. Best Research Fund was established in 1975, Diabetes Canada has funded more than $135 million in research to support thousands of Canada’s most renowned scientists, scholars, and clinicians. Read how research is enhancing our understanding of diabetes and its prevention, treatment, and management in “Progress in Research.”

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