More than 1000 Illawarra women took part in gestational diabetes study

Local data: Dr Robert Moses with Tracey Johnston, one of the former patients he'd treated for gestational diabetes who took part in the study. Picture: Robert Peet

Local data: Dr Robert Moses with Tracey Johnston, one of the former patients he'd treated for gestational diabetes who took part in the study. Picture: Robert Peet

An Illawarra study has shown that women with gestational diabetes are twice as likely as other women to develop Type 2 diabetes.

The research, by Dr Robert Moses, relied on the experience of more than 1300 women he had treated for gestational diabetes over the 20-year period to 2010.

Dr Moses, director of the Illawarra Shoalhaven Local Health District’s diabetes services, said while the rate was twice as high – it was less than what he’d expected.

‘’International studies show around 70 per cent of women with gestational diabetes develop Type 2 diabetes within 10 years,’’ he said.

‘’However, in order to best treat our patients, we needed Illawarra-specific data. And what our research revealed was that the rates of diabetes Type 2 for women who’d had gestational diabetes was about twice the rate of an aged and gender matched Australian population.’’

Dr Moses said the local research also found there was a low rate of undiagnosed diabetes – with less than one per cent of the women involved in the study unaware they’d developed Type 2 diabetes.

‘’This is a very positive finding given there’s always been concerns about the rate of undiagnosed diabetes in the community,’’ he said.

The study – to be published in the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology – will be useful in informing future research and resources, locally and nationally.

‘’The big advantage about this region from a medical research perspective is that, because of its multicultural mix, it’s representative of Australia,’’ Dr Moses said.

Dr Moses and his team attempted to contact 3500 former patients – some who’d been treated over 25 years ago. ‘’We found more than half of the eligible women, and 1300 agreed to be involved,’’ he said. 

One of those was Cordeaux Heights resident Tracey Johnston, who has two daughters aged 17 and 19.

‘’I had a family history of diabetes but it was a shock to be diagnosed with gestational diabetes in both pregnancies,’’ she said. ‘’It was diet controlled and I had no complications, and I haven’t developed Type 2 diabetes.’’

Dr Moses said gestational diabetes was the most common problem experienced during pregnancy. National rates had risen from 8.5 to 13 per cent of pregnant women since changes to testing were introduced in 2011.

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