Gestational Diabetes Increases Risk of Postpartum Depression, Study Finds

Having gestational diabetes increases the risk of postpartum depression in women who are first-time mothers, according to a new study from the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York and the Karolinska Institutet in Sweden. Rates of this type of diabetes are on the rise, with the condition affecting roughly 10% of pregnant women in the United States and approximately 0.7% to 0.8% of pregnant women in Sweden.

Gestational diabetes is a type of diabetes first diagnosed during pregnancy, typically in the second or third trimester, that can increase the risk of complications in the baby such as high birth weight, respiratory difficulties, and preterm birth, as well as raising the chances of future Type 2 diabetes in both mother and child. Risk factors for developing the condition include being over the age of 25; having close family members with diabetes; being overweight; or being African-American, Asian, Hispanic, or Native American. Postpartum depression is a mood disorder that occurs from a few weeks to up to six months after giving birth and can include symptoms such as depressed mood or mood swings, excessive crying, sleeping difficulties, and anxiety and panic attacks. Untreated, the condition can last for months and may interfere with a woman’s ability to care for her baby.

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In the largest study of its kind to date, researchers looked at data from more than 700,000 women in the Swedish Medical Birth Register to evaluate what factors impact a woman’s risk of developing postpartum depression. They found that women who have a previous diagnosis of depression are more than 20 times more likely to experience postpartum depression than women without a previous history of depression. Additionally, they established that having gestational diabetes independently increases the risk of postpartum depression, and that having a history of depression along with gestational diabetes further raises the risk of the condition.

“Most practitioners think of these as two isolated and very different conditions, but we now understand gestational diabetes and postpartum depression should be considered together,” notes lead study author Michael E. Silverman, PhD. “While having diabetes increases postpartum depression risk for all women, for those women who have had a past depressive episode, having diabetes during pregnancy makes it 70% more likely that they will develop postpartum depression.”

For more information, see the Mount Sinai press release “Gestational Diabetes Increases Risk for Postpartum Depression” or the study’s abstract in the journal Depression and Anxiety. And for more information about gestational diabetes, see this three-part series by certified diabetes educator Amy Campbell.

To help children with Type 1 diabetes in less-resourced countries, the IDF is continuing the “Spare a Rose, Save a Child” campaign. Bookmark DiabetesSelfManagement.com and tune in tomorrow to learn more.

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