Gestational diabetes linked with depression during pregnancy

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The Journal Diabetologia has published the findings of researchers who discovered a link between early pregnancy depression and emergence of gestational diabetes at an advanced stage. The researchers also discovered the association between gestational diabetes and an increased risk of developing postpartum depression.


One of the complications associated with pregnancy is gestational diabetes with evidences showing that most pregnant women who are not diabetic before getting pregnant are diagnosed with diabetes in the course of the pregnancy. Gestational diabetes occurs mostly in the 24th week of pregnancy which can cause serious medical problems for both mother and the fetus.

Gestational diabetes occurs when the insulin produced by the pancreas during pregnancy is not effective enough in reducing lower blood glucose level because the excess glucose found their ways into the placenta leading to increase glucose levels in the baby which stored up as fats leading to macrosomia. Similarly, because of the excessive insulin level, the baby may have uncommon low glucose levels leading breathing difficulty. Given these situations, the children are susceptible to developing type 2 diabetes and becoming obese later in life.
The researchers used pregnancy data from the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) Fetal Growth Studies-Singleton Cohort which were collated to track pregnancies and form an in depth understanding of how fetuses grow and develop.
About 2,334 non-obese and 468 obese women pregnancy were tracked from week 8 to week 13 of pregnancy. Each participant was asked the depressive symptoms they had and were also assessed for gestational diabetes. The results showed that women who had highest scores on depression during the first and second trimesters also recorded increased risk of gestational diabetes compared with women who had lower depression scores.
Dr. Cuilin Zhang, a leading author of the study says: “Of particular note, persistent depression from the first to second trimester set women at even greater risk for gestational diabetes” and added that it would be “good idea for clinicians to pay particular attention to women with high depression scores when evaluating the risk of gestational diabetes.”

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Similarly, the team discovered that not only did early depression predict later gestational diabetes but that gestational diabetes also predicted the development of depression at a later stage. Almost 15 percent of women with gestational diabetes later experienced postpartum depression; that is four times higher than the women who experience no gestational diabetes.
However, according to Stefanie Hinkle said that it is important to note that this study could not prove a cause and effect relationship. In spite of strong links between depression and gestational diabetes, the precise nature of the interaction will be difficult to unpack.
It is pertinent to state that early study has revealed that depression is often associated with impaired glucose metabolism which can lead to high glucose levels in the blood while an increased glucose levels causes inflammation and changes in hormones which have been shown to worsen symptoms of depression.
In conclusion, as fascinating the results of the study are, more questions still need to be provided with answers.

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