Gestational diabetes could predict type 2 diabetes in fathers

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A long-term study finds that the partners of women who develop gestational diabetes have an increased risk of type 2 diabetes.

Previous studies have shown that mothers with gestational diabetes are more likely to develop type 2 diabetes, but this risk could extend to fathers as well.

Researchers at McGill University Health Centre, Canada evaluated the hospital records of women between 1990 and 2007. Singleton births were randomly selected, and it was noted which women developed gestational diabetes.

The partners of all the selected women were then identified – overall, 70,890 fathers were evaluated – and half of their partners had gestational diabetes.

By the end of the study period, which was March 2012, 5.2 per cent of fathers in the gestational diabetes group had been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. In the group of women that did not develop gestational diabetes, 3.9 per cent of the fathers had type 2.

The incidence of type 2 diabetes was 33 per cent greater in fathers whose partner developed gestational diabetes. The authors believe this statistic is significant enough for gestational diabetes to be considered as a type 2 diabetes risk factor for both mothers and fathers.

The researchers pointed to environmental factors as being behind this risk. Lead author Dr. Kaberi Dasgupta wrote: “Our analysis suggests that couples share risk partly because of their shared social and cultural environment, which may contribute to health behaviours and attitudes.

“The study reinforces the findings of our previous study on shared risk for diabetes in spouses, and prior studies indicating that less healthy eating habits and low physical activity could be shared within a household.”

The findings of this study were published in Diabetes Care.