Derived From: Natural News
Original Author: David Gutierrez
There may be a connection between depression and gestational diabetes in pregnant women, according to a study conducted by researchers from the National Institutes of Health and published in the journal Diabetologia.
The researchers found that women who were depressed during the earlier part of pregnancy were more likely to be diagnosed with gestational diabetes. They also found that women diagnosed with gestational diabetes were more likely to develop postpartum depression (which can be diagnosed starting six weeks after delivery).
“Our data suggest that depression and gestational diabetes may occur together,” first author Stefanie Hinkle said. “Until we learn more, physicians may want to consider observing pregnant women with depressive symptoms for signs of gestational diabetes. They also may want to monitor women who have had gestational diabetes for signs of postpartum depression.”
Gestational diabetes refers to high levels of blood sugar that occur during pregnancy and return to normal levels soon after delivery. Technically, women whose type 1 or type 2 diabetes is first diagnosed during pregnancy should not be considered to have gestational diabetes – although in practice, many healthcare providers fail to make this distinction.
A certain level of elevated blood sugar is a normal effect of pregnancy and not a cause for concern. Excessively high levels, however, may damage the unborn child.
Gestational diabetes can almost always be controlled with diet and exercise.
In the new study, researchers examined pregnancy records from the NICHD Fetal Growth Studies-Singleton Cohort, which included 468 obese women and 2,334 non-obese women. Participants completed a depression-screening questionnaire at between eight and 13 weeks of pregnancy, then another between the 16th and 22nd weeks, and a final one six weeks after delivery. Researchers also reviewed the women’s medical records for diagnoses of gestational diabetes.
The researchers found that women who had the highest depression scores in the first two trimesters of pregnancy (approximately 17 percent of participants) were nearly three times more likely to be diagnosed with gestational diabetes than women who were less depressed.
This means that minor depression was not particularly associated with gestational diabetes.
“Of particular note, persistent depression from the first to second trimester set women at even greater risk for gestational diabetes,” senior author Cuilin Zhang said.
A surprising finding was that the link between depression and gestational diabetes only existed for non-obese women – even though obese women are significantly more likely to develop gestational diabetes.
“Our results suggest it would be a good idea for clinicians to pay particular attention to women with high depression scores when evaluating the risk of gestational diabetes,” Zhang said.
The study also found that women diagnosed with gestational diabetes were more than four times as likely to develop postpartum depression than women without gestational diabetes.
However, the usefulness of this study may be limited by poor clinical practice.
Currently, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists only recommends that pregnant women be screened for depression once between 22 weeks of pregnancy and seven days after birth – that is, too late to detect gestational diabetes risk, and too early to detect postpartum depression.
Another potential limitation to the study’s significance is that gestational diabetes may be wildly over-diagnosed, due to faulty testing methods and failure to take into account the natural insulin resistance that develops during pregnancy.
Postpartum depression might actually be caused, in part, by the gestational diabetes diagnosis, which places women at higher risk of more (potentially unnecessary and dangerous) birth interventions.
A higher intervention birth is a known risk factor for postpartum depression.
Postpartum depression is a common and dangerous condition that places women at greater risk of psychiatric disorders and suicide, and may also affect the well-being of their children. Due to poor testing practices and lack of support, however, it is dramatically under-diagnosed.