Hispanic/Latina Women with gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM) in the US are at an increased risk for diabetes but not cardiovascular disease, according to a recent study published in Women & Health.

Hispanic/Latina women in the United States are 2 to 4 times more likely to have GDM than non-Latina white women, and this population has experienced a rapid increase in other cardiovascular health risk factors in recent years. However, the overall US Hispanic/Latino population has lower than expected rates of cardiovascular disease as well as better life expectancy. The current study sought to discover whether these paradoxical effects existed for US Hispanic/Latina women with a history of GDM by comparing risk factors, social demographics, and disease prevalence for Hispanic/Latina women with and without GDM history.  There were a total of 8262 women, of those 305 had a history of GDM (GDM group) and 7957 without GDM (no-GDM group).

The study found that women in the GDM group were more likely to have health insurance than the non-GDM group (68.1% GDM vs. 54.9% no-GDM). They were also younger (mean age of 39.1 years for GDM vs 45.5 years for no-GDM), had higher fasting glucose levels (116.0 mg/dL [95% CI, 107.8-124.3] for GDM vs 104.2 mg/dL [95% CI, 103.4-105.1] for no-GDM), had greater waist circumference (mean circumference of 102.3 cm for GDM vs 98.1 cm for no-GDM), and were more likely to have diabetes or metabolic syndrome (odds ratio [OR] 3.3 [95% CI, 2.2-4.8] and OR 1.7 [95% CI, 1.2-2.6], respectively). A similar incidence of heart and cerebrovascular disease was found in both groups.

Study investigators conclude that “a history of GDM was associated with metabolic syndrome and diabetes. Women with a history of GDM should be targeted for management of cardiometabolic health and diabetes risk reduction. Despite a history of GDM, the prevalence of cardiovascular disease was low and similar to women without a history of GDM. Findings may be a function of younger average age of women with a history of GDM.”

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Perera MJ, Reina SA, Elfassy T, et al. Gestational diabetes and cardiovascular risk factors and disease in U.S. Hispanics/Latinas in the Hispanic Community Health Study/Study of Latinos (HCHS/SOL) [published online July 24, 2018]. Women Health. doi: 10.1080/03630242.2018.1500415