Link Found Between Pre-eclampsia and Diabetes Later in Life

Posted on 22 September 2016

Research led by Keele University and published this week in Diabetologia (the journal of the European Association for the Study of Diabetes) has identified a new link between pre-eclampsia in pregnancy and the development of diabetes in later life.

The condition, which results in high blood pressure and protein in the mother’s urine, affects 5-8% of pregnancies and is the most common cause of severe perinatal ill health. The study showed that pre-eclampsia is independently associated with a two-fold increase in future diabetes. This increased risk occurs from less than one year after delivery of the baby and persisted to over 10 years after birth.

Dr Pensee Wu, Lecturer in Obstetrics and Gynaecology at Keele University’s Institute of Science and Technology in Medicine, is the first author of this publication and said:

“This study highlights the importance of clinical risk assessment and follow-up for the future development of diabetes in women with pre-eclampsia. Understanding of health conditions during pregnancy and their impact on health over a woman’s life is vital in the prevention of conditions such as diabetes.

“Ensuring women are screened regularly and take preventative measures through diet and exercise could help reduce the number of women who later contract diabetes after experiencing pre-eclampsia during pregnancy.”

The study involved a systematic review of research over the past 10 years, much of which was conflicting about the impact of pre-eclampsia later in life.

The understanding of the long-term impact of women’s health following pre-eclampsia is, however, growing. The American Heart Association has linked pre-eclampsia to longer term cardiac conditions.

“Diabetes is a multi-organ condition. If we can prevent it from developing early on, it could dramatically reduce the risks of serious health issues later in life for women after birth,” says Dr Wu.

Researchers hope that dissemination of this study to clinicians, particularly those in Primary Care health provision, will inform practice and longer term preventative measures.

Dr Pensee Wu is a lecturer in Obstetrics and Gynaecology at Keele University’s Institute of Science and Technology in Medicine and is an Honorary Consultant Obstetrician and Foetal Medicine Subspecialist at the University Hospital North Midlands (UHNM).

This study was supported by a grant from the North Staffs Heart Committee and the National Institute for Health Research Academic Clinical Fellowships. This study was a collaboration between UHNM Academic Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Keele Cardiovascular Research Group, Institute for Primary Care and Health Sciences at Keele University and the Institute of Applied Health Sciences at the University of Aberdeen. The authors are: Pensee Wu, Chun Shing Kwok, Randula Haththotuwa, Rafail Kotronias, Aswin Babu, Anthony Fryer, Phyo Myint, Carolyn Chew-Graham and Mamas Mamas. 

The full article can be accessed here