Background: To investigate which factors during gestational diabetes pregnancies correlate with the risk of developing impaired glucose tolerance or diabetes 1 year postpartum and to compare this risk in women with gestational diabetes and women with a normal oral glucose tolerance test during pregnancy.
Methods: Of 315 women with gestational diabetes, defined as a 2-hr blood glucose value of at least 9.0 mmol/l at a 75-g oral glucose tolerance test, who delivered in Lund 1991-99, 229 (73%) performed a new test 1 year postpartum. We compared maternal and fetal factors during pregnancy with the test value at follow up. A control group of 153 women with a 2-hr test value below 7.8 mmol/l during pregnancy were invited to a new test 1 year postpartum and 60 (39%) accepted.
Results: At 1 year follow up, 31% of the women with gestational diabetes but only one of the 60 controls showed pathologic glucose tolerance and one had developed diabetes. The following factors in women with gestational diabetes were identified as predicting impaired glucose tolerance or diabetes at 1 year follow up: maternal age over 40 and--in a multiple regression analysis, independent of each other--a high 2-hr value at oral glucose tolerance test during pregnancy and insulin treatment during pregnancy.
Conclusion: The risk of developing manifest diabetes after gestational diabetes may be high enough to justify a general screening or diagnostic procedure in all pregnant women to identify women with gestational diabetes and a postpartum follow up program for them. This study did not identify any particular factor during pregnancy with enough precision to predict a later progression to diabetes.