Pregnancy Loss Tied to Increased Risk of Type 2 Diabetes

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Loss of a pregnancy may increase a woman’s risk of developing Type 2 diabetes, Danish researchers report.

Their study, in Diabetologia, included 24,774 women who developed diabetes after pregnancy and 247,740 controls who did not.

Compared with women who had been pregnant without losing a baby, those who lost one were at an 18 percent increased risk for diabetes, those who lost two were at a 38 percent higher risk and those who lost three or more had a 71 percent higher risk. The study adjusted for obesity and gestational diabetes, which are known to be associated with the development of Type 2 diabetes.

The reason for the association remains unknown. It may be that the same genetic background increases the risk for both pregnancy loss and diabetes, or that pre-diabetes present before the diagnosis of diabetes could lead to both. In any case, the authors stress that the observational finding does not prove cause and effect.

The lead author, Dr. Pia Egerup, a researcher at the Recurrent Pregnancy Loss Unit of the Rigshospitalet and Hvidovre Hospital in Copenhagen, said that the most important clinical implication is that pregnancy loss is a risk factor for diabetes.

“Pregnancy loss is not only due to fetal disease,” she said. “A large proportion are healthy fetuses lost because of maternal conditions. As clinicians, we want to optimize pregnancy success and minimize the risk for future diabetes.”