Pregnancy sets stage for metabolic syndrome

Kathleen Blanchard's picture

Results of a new study show that childbearing is strongly associated with increased risk for metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes. Women who develop gestational diabetes have double the chances of metabolic syndrome later in life that increases risk of heart disease from abdominal obesity, high triglyceride levels, insulin resistance, and other cardiometabolic risk factors.

The study, co-authored by University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) researchers suggests that childbearing women are at risk for metabolic syndrome because of behavioral changes. Lack of physical activity and abdominal obesity following pregnancy play a role that can lead to health problems.


According to UAB Professor of Preventive Medicine Cora E. Lewis, M.D., M.S.P.H., “Pregnancy can have lasting, adverse physiological effects and may result in behavioral changes." The findings show how important it is for childbearing women to eat healthy and exercise regularly to reduce future risk of metabolic syndrome.

The health study of childbearing women, age 18-30 years began in 1985-1986 and is part of the ongoing CARDIA study that includes 1451 women. Compared to body mass index before pregnancy, the researchers found that giving birth to one child was associated with a 33 percent increased risk of metabolic syndrome, and 62 percent higher for more than one birth.

The study shows that pregnancy can lead to disease risk later in life unless measures are taken to exercise, and follow a healthy diet. The researchers suggest that physicians screen women for cardiometabolic risk factors following pregnancy.

Source UAB News
Written by Kathleen Blanchard RN
Charlotte, NC
Exclusive to eMaxHealth