Skip to content

Diabetes Health Center

Font Size

Diabetes in Pregnancy Signals Future Trouble

But Diet, Exercise, and/or Drug Therapy Can Help Many Women Avoid It, Researchers Say
WebMD Health News

June 7, 2004 (Orlando, Fla.) -- A new study shows that pregnant women who develop gestational diabetes can cut their risk of developing type 2 diabetes later in life in half with either a combination of diet and exercise, or with a drug commonly used to treat type 2 diabetes.

Women who develop this form of diabetes during pregnancy have a higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes after delivery and later in life.

"What I would say is that we need to be very aggressive with these patients," says Martin Abrahamson, MD, chief medical officer at the Joslin Diabetes Center in Boston. "I've always said that lifestyle modification is the way to go, but that being said, is it time for us to start thinking about the prevention of the disease with [drug] therapy, knowing that [drug] therapy is as effective as it is."

"Gestational diabetes, we know is a huge risk for the development of diabetes. What this is telling us is that gestational diabetes is probably a much bigger risk for developing diabetes than we previously thought," says Abrahamson.

A diabetes specialist who was not involved in the study tells WebMD that the study results should also be a warning flag for women who develop gestational diabetes.

Study researcher Robert E. Ratner, MD, from the MedStar Research Institute, tells WebMD that "if a woman has had a history of gestational diabetes, even after 10 years [after giving birth], her risk of developing diabetes itself is 70% higher than a comparable group of women without [gestational diabetes]."

The study was reported at the annual scientific meeting of the American Diabetes Association.

Future Risks Can Be Reduced

The study involved about 2,000 women -- 349 who had gestational diabetes in the past, 1,416 mothers who never had gestational diabetes, and 426 women who had never given birth.

The women received either instruction in intensive lifestyle changes, which included nutrition and exercise counseling, or medications -- either glucophage or a dummy pill. Glucophage was started at a dose of 850 milligrams daily. The average follow-up time during the study was almost three years. Neither the patients nor the researchers knew who was getting which pill.

Is This Normal? Get the Facts Fast!

Check Your Blood Sugar Level Now
What type of diabetes do you have?
Your gender:

Get the latest Diabetes newsletter delivered to your inbox!


Your level is currently

If the level is below 70 or you are experiencing symptoms such as shaking, sweating or difficulty thinking, you will need to raise the number immediately. A quick solution is to eat a few pieces of hard candy or 1 tablespoon of sugar or honey. Recheck your numbers again in 15 minutes to see if the number has gone up. If not, repeat the steps above or call your doctor.

People who experience hypoglycemia several times in a week should call their health care provider. It's important to monitor your levels each day so you can make sure your numbers are within the range. If you are pregnant always consult with your health care provider.

Congratulations on taking steps to manage your health.

However, it's important to continue to track your numbers so that you can make lifestyle changes if needed. If you are pregnant always consult with your physician.

Your level is high if this reading was taken before eating. Aim for 70-130 before meals and less than 180 two hours after meals.

Even if your number is high, it's not too late for you to take control of your health and lower your blood sugar.

One of the first steps is to monitor your levels each day. If you are pregnant always consult with your physician.

Did You Know Your Lifestyle Choices
Affect Your Blood Sugar?

Use the Blood Glucose Tracker to monitor
how well you manage your blood sugar over time.

Get Started

This tool is not intended for women who are pregnant.

Start Over

Step:  of 

Today on WebMD

Diabetic tools
Symptoms, diagnosis, treatment, and more.
woman flexing muscles
10 strength training exercises.
Blood sugar test
12 practical tips.
Tom Hanks
Stars living with type 1 or type 2.
kenneth fujioka, md
Can Vinegar Treat Diabetes
Middle aged person
Home Healthcare

Prediabetes How to Prevent Type 2 Diabetes
type 2 diabetes
food fitness planner