These Steps May Cut Diabetes Risk in New Moms

Type 2 diabetes risk after pregnancy in women who had gestational diabetes may be lowered with metformin and exercise

(RxWiki News) Between late-night feedings and diaper changes, new moms may not prioritize their own blood sugar levels. However, healthy choices and medications could prevent diabetes in those at risk for it.

A recent study found that women who had gestational diabetes could lower their type 2 diabetes risk through healthy lifestyle habits and taking metformin (brand name Fortamet), a medication to control blood sugar.

“Medical and lifestyle interventions were remarkably effective at slowing the progression of Type 2 diabetes in this at-risk population in both the short and long term,” said study lead Vanita R. Aroda, MD, of the MedStar Health Research Institute in Hyattsville, MD, in a press release.

Many women develop gestational diabetes (GDM) in the second trimester of pregnancy, according to the authors of this study. GDM occurs when the mother's blood sugar is very high. It may cause unhealthy weight gain in both mother and baby.

Although GDM often goes away on its own after the baby is born, women who had it may be more likely to develop type 2 diabetes later on. Patients with type 2 diabetes have high blood sugar and a raised risk for heart problems.

This study looked at nearly 300 mothers who had been diagnosed with GDM and more than 1,200 diabetes-free mothers.

These women either began a cardio exercise plan, started taking metformin or took a placebo (fake medicine).

Over the next six years, each of the patients had their blood sugar levels taken twice per year.

Dr. Aroda and team found that women with a history of GDM were 48 percent more likely to develop type 2 diabetes than women without GDM.

Also, the women who had GDM and began an exercise program had a 35 percent lower risk of getting type 2 diabetes — compared to women who did not make any changes. The women in the GDM group who took metformin lowered their risk by 40 percent.

Women without a history of GDM also reduced their risk of diabetes by 30 percent with the exercise program. Metformin did not appear to affect diabetes risk for these women, though.

Dr. Aroda and team said that both healthy lifestyle changes and preventive diabetes medications may lower type 2 diabetes risk in mothers with a history of GDM.

This study was published Feb. 23 in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism.

The National Institutes of Health funded this research. Study author L. M. Delahanty disclosed ties to Omada Health.

Review Date: 
February 23, 2015