If a woman develops diabetes while pregnant, her risk of type 2 diabetes after the birth rises. New research finds dad’s risk of the disease goes up, too.
Gestational diabetes, a type of diabetes that occurs during pregnancy, affects between 3 and 20 percent of pregnant women. Those who develop gestational diabetes are 7 times as likely to eventually develop type 2 diabetes in the years following pregnancy.
The study, which includes 20 years of data from Quebec, appears in Diabetes Care.
“We observed that the incident of diabetes was 33 percent greater in men whose partner has gestational diabetes compared with men whose partners did not have gestational diabetes,” says lead author Kaberi Dasgupta, endocrinologist at the McGill University Health Centre and an associate professor of medicine at McGill University. “This is the first study to demonstrate a link between gestational diabetes in mothers and diabetes incidence in fathers.”
Prior studies have shown partners to be similar in their weight and physical activity. Moreover, Dr. Dasgupta’s team has shown evidence in a study conducted in 2014 that spousal diabetes was a diabetes risk factor. Then the researchers hypothesized that gestational diabetes in mothers signals a possible diabetes incidence in fathers. Gestational diabetes occurs when couples are in young to middle adulthood. Diabetes risk factors in these years are of high importance as they offer an opportunity for long-term prevention.
The researchers randomly selected singleton live births from 1990 to 2007 with a positive diagnosis for gestational diabetes in mothers and matched controls without gestational diabetes from health administrative, birth, and death registry data from the province of Quebec.
Then, they identified fathers with type 2 diabetes from the time of the mother’s post-delivery discharge from the hospital to the father’s departure from Quebec, death, or end of the study period (March 31, 2012). Overall, the researchers evaluated 70,890 fathers, half of whom had partners with gestational diabetes.
“Our analysis suggests that couples share risk partly because of their shared social and cultural environment, which may contribute to health behaviors and attitudes,” explains Dasgupta.
“The study reinforces the findings of our previous study on shared risk for diabetes in spouses and prior studies indicating that less healthy eating habits and low physical activity could be shared within a household. Our data suggest that gestational diabetes could be leveraged as a tool to enhance diabetes detection and prevention in fathers.”
The Canadian Diabetes Association supported the work.
Source: McGill University