Over the years, researchers have identified a variety of potential risk factors and triggers for the development of type 1 diabetes. While they know that diabetes risk runs in families – having a parent with T1D puts children at increased risk – a recent study found that gestational diabetes may also be a risk factor. Women who develop gestational diabetes do not usually have a history of the disease, and it often resolves once they have given birth.
However, the development of this condition may put their offspring at greater risk for T1D. The study found that when mothers had gestational diabetes, children were twice as likely to develop diabetes by age 22 than those children born to mothers without gestational diabetes. A limitation of the study was that it was unknown whether children were diagnosed with type 1 or type 2 diabetes, though type 1 is more common in children.
The study involved 73,180 groups of mothers, fathers, and offspring who live in Quebec, Canada. If there was a previous history of diabetes, heart failure, or cardiovascular disease in either parent, the group was excluded from the study. Factors such as the mother’s gestational age and other maternal demographics were also adjusted for when analyzing risk and results.
Understanding the potential risk may help parents to be more alert to potential signs of diabetes in their children such as abnormal thirst, frequent urination, unusual weight loss, or fatigue if the mother experienced gestational diabetes. This can allow children to be tested and diagnosed sooner so that they can better manage their health.
Additional research is needed to address limitations of this study and also to further explore the severity of the disease in children born to a mother with gestational diabetes versus those who were not. Researchers are unclear at this point whether there is any significant difference.
It is these types of studies that stimulate new research and questions in regard to type 1 diabetes. The Diabetes Research Connection (DRC) strives to provide critical funding for early career scientists so that they can carry out research related to the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of T1D, as well as improving quality of life for those living with the disease. To learn more about current projects and support these endeavors, visit http://diabetesresearchconnection.org.