Women who develop high blood sugar levels during pregnancy in a condition known as gestational diabetes face a higher risk of postpartum depression or baby blues.
Gestational diabetes could alert doctors to a higher risk of postpartum depression. Affecting nearly ten percent of expecting mothers in the US, the condition is characterized by glucose intolerance and abnormally high blood sugar levels, which usually become apparent in the second trimester of pregnancy. It involves risks for both mothers and babies, who may be too large at birth.
For the purposes of the study, researchers at the National Institute of Health (NIH) surveyed 2,334 women, of whom 468 were obese, at the 8th and 22nd week of their pregnancy and also six weeks after they had given birth.
According to their findings, close to 15% of the women who developed gestational diabetes also experienced symptoms of depression after they had given birth: a rate that was four times higher than it was for women who were not affected by the condition.
The results of the study also highlighted an inverse relationship. Women who declared that they felt depressed during the trimesters of pregnancy were twice as likely to develop gestational diabetes. In cases marked by persistent depression in the first and second trimesters, the risk was even higher with 17% of the women concerned affected by gestational diabetes, three times as many as those with lower depression scores.
For depressive non-obese women, the risk of gestational diabetes was multiplied by three, when compared with other women in the study. However, depression did not appear to have any incidence on the risk of gestational diabetes among obese expecting mothers.
In conclusion, the researchers recommend that doctors pay particular attention to women with high depression scores when evaluating the risk of gestation diabetes.
If the expecting mother does not present any risk factors (obesity, excess weight, a family history of diabetes) and is aged under 35, testing for gestational diabetes should only be undertaken in cases where there is excessive amniotic fluid (polyhydramnios) or the size of the fetus is abnormally large (measuring on or above the 97th percentile). If risk factors are present, mothers-to-be should take a fasting blood glucose (FPG) test in the first trimester of pregnancy or before they conceive.