Race/ethnic origin of mother and father influence whether the mother develops gestational diabetes

Research Activities, December 2010, No. 364

Researchers do not know why 7 in 100 pregnant women develop gestational diabetes, a complication in which a woman's body is not able to produce and use all the insulin it needs for pregnancy. A new study reveals that women who are Asian, Native American, or Hispanic, or whose partners are of these racial/ethnic groups are at greater risk for developing the condition. It found that Asian women had the highest rate of gestational diabetes and that the father's race/ethnic origin contributed equally to the risk for Asian, Hispanic, and Native American groups.

Using a managed care network's database, researchers in California identified 139,848 women who developed gestational diabetes. Asian women had the highest rate (6.8 percent) compared with Native American (5.6 percent). Hispanic (4.9 percent), white (3.4 percent), and black (3.2 percent) women. Further, the rate of gestational diabetes was higher when the father was Asian (6.5 percent) compared with Hispanic (4.6 percent), Native American (4.5 percent), white (3.9 percent), or black (3.3 percent) fathers. The authors suggest that because these racial/ethnic groups originated in Asia, they may share a common genetic risk for developing gestational diabetes.

While it has been known that maternal race/ethnicity is associated with gestational diabetes, the researchers found that the father's race seemed to be equally predictive of whether the mother will contend with the condition. This information could potentially be useful for clinicians considering whether or not to screen women for gestational diabetes with a glucose loading test, the authors suggest. It can also be informative for future research into the etiology of gestational diabetes. The study was funded in part by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (HS10856).

See "Maternal and paternal race/ethnicity are both associated with gestational diabetes," by Aaron B. Caughey, M.D., M.P.P., M.P.H., Ph.D., Yvonne W. Cheng, M.D., M.P.H., Naomi E. Stotland, M.D., and others in the June 2010 American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology 202(6), 616.e1-616.e5.

Current as of December 2010
Internet Citation: Race/ethnic origin of mother and father influence whether the mother develops gestational diabetes: Research Activities, December 2010, No. 364. December 2010. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Rockville, MD. http://archive.ahrq.gov/news/newsletters/research-activities/dec10/1210RA18.html