Small Risk of Diabetes Linked to Fertility Issues

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Infertility and gestational diabetes linked through shared risks

October 9, 2013 / Author:  / Reviewed by: Robert Carlson, M.D Beth Bolt, RPh

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(dailyRx News) Women who have overcome fertility problems know the joy of finally becoming pregnant. But their infertility history may help them prepare for the pregnancy as well.

A recent study found that women with fertility problems are a little more likely to develop gestational diabetes if they become pregnant.

Gestational diabetes is a pregnancy complication in which a woman temporarily develops diabetes while she is pregnant.

Knowing whether a woman is at higher risk for gestational diabetes may help her take precautions to reduce her risk during pregnancy.

"Attend all prenatal appointments."

The study, led by Deirdre K. Tobias, of the Department of Nutrition at Harvard School of Public Health, looked for a possible relationship between infertility problems and gestational diabetes.

The researchers tracked the pregnancies of 40,773 women who were participating in a long-term study between 1989 and 2001.

During the study, the women filled out questionnaires every two years about infertility problems and information regarding their health and lifestyle.

During the course of the study, 5.2 percent of the women (1,405 women) developed gestational diabetes during their pregnancies.

Meanwhile, 20.5 percent of the women (5,497 women) reported having some kind of infertility problems before they were able to get pregnant.

Then the researchers compared these groups, taking into account women's age, pre-pregnancy weight and other factors that might increase their risk of gestational diabetes.

The results showed that women who had a history of infertility problems were 39 percent more likely to have gestational diabetes when they did become pregnant.

The researchers then looked at other health-related conditions the women had to see if any issues overlapped with infertility and gestational diabetes risk.

They found that several reproductive problems related to infertility increased the likelihood of gestational diabetes as well.

For example, having an ovulation disorder that caused fertility problems increased a woman's likelihood of having gestational diabetes by 52 percent.

Having blockage in their fallopian tubes linked to infertility also increased women's likelihood of gestational diabetes by 83 percent, making these women almost twice as likely to have gestational diabetes when they finally did become pregnant.

Having a cervical mucus disorder that caused fertility difficulties may have also been linked to gestational diabetes, but the researchers were not able to rule out whether this link was by chance or not.

Meanwhile, having endometriosis or a male partner with infertility problems were unrelated to the risk for gestational diabetes.

"These novel findings suggest that infertility, particularly from ovulation disorders and tubal blockage, is associated with an increased gestational diabetes risk," the researchers wrote.

The study was published in the October issue of the American Journal of Epidemiology. The authors declared no conflicts of interest.

The research was funded by the National Institutes of Health, the Intramural Research Program of the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development and the American Diabetes Association.