Purpose: To evaluate the relationships among gravidity, obesity, and non-insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus in Pima Indian women.
Subjects and methods: Pima Indian women (n = 2,779) participating in a longitudinal epidemiologic study of diabetes were evaluated in both cross-sectional and longitudinal analyses.
Results: The prevalence of non-insulin-dependent diabetes was higher among women who had never been pregnant than among those who had been pregnant (age- and obesity-adjusted odds ratio = 2.0; 95% confidence interval = 1.5 to 2.7). Controlled for age and obesity, nondiabetic women who had never been pregnant had significantly higher fasting plasma glucose concentrations by 2% (P = 0.004), higher fasting serum insulin concentrations by 8% (P = 0.09), and higher 2-hour serum insulin concentrations by 10% (P = 0.07) than nondiabetic women who had been pregnant. Among 1,025 women observed for an average of 8 years, those who had not been pregnant by the baseline examination were at significantly higher risk for developing non-insulin-dependent diabetes before the age of 40 years (incidence rate ratio = 1.5; 95% confidence interval = 1.2 to 2.1), but that difference could be accounted for by a higher degree of obesity.
Conclusions: We hypothesize that Pima Indian women who have a high risk for non-insulin-dependent diabetes develop obesity and hyperinsulinemia at an early age, and that may be responsible for decreased fertility because of associated changes in sex hormones.