Examining the Frequency of Gestational Diabetes Mellitus and Preeclampsia in Pregnancy

A recent study, published in Acta Obstetricia et Gynecologica Scandinavica, examined whether rates of gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM), a type of diabetes that emerges during pregnancy, and preeclampsia, a complication linked to high blood pressure that typically develops after 20 weeks of pregnancy, are on the rise. Both of these conditions can result in serious health issues for mothers and their babies.

This study utilized health data from population-based registers in Denmark and Alberta, Canada to determine if the increased prevalence of GDM and preeclampsia were as a result of changes in maternal risk factors, such as maternal age, number of births, pregnancy with multiples, pre-existing conditions/illnesses, and body mass index (BMI). The study cohort, which included all pregnancies resulting in live-born infants between 2005 and 2018, was comprised of 846,127 pregnancies in Denmark and 706,728 pregnancies in Alberta.

The researchers found notable increases in the prevalence of GDM and preeclampsia in both Denmark and Alberta between 2005 and 2018. While these increases can be partially attributed to changes in screening practices and diagnostic criteria, a significant portion can also be linked to changes in maternal risk factor distributions, notably increased maternal age.

CVC Co-Director Dr. Padma Kaul notes that “May 22nd is World Preeclampsia Day and we hope that the concerning trends observed within this study highlight the need to design interventions to prevent the development of chronic diseases in these high-risk women.”

This study was a collaborative undertaking between the CVC and the Statens Serum Institut. CVC co-authors include Frederikke Lihme, PhD (trainee); Ana Savu, PhD; Oleysa Barrett, PhD; Leiah Luoma, PhD; Deliwe Ngwezi, PhD (trainee); and Padma Kaul, PhD.