Pregnant women in silhouette. Photo by kieferpix.

How stress and depression may influence a woman’s risk of diabetes during pregnancy

Traumatic experiences during childhood, such as abuse and family conflict, can affect people’s health and wellbeing as an adult.

IHMRI researchers have found that women who grow up in stressful environments are more likely to have depressive symptoms before pregnancy.

Women who experienced both traumatic events in childhood, and depressive symptoms before pregnancy were more likely to develop gestational diabetes.

Dr Danielle Shoenaker. Photo by Trudy Simpkin.

Dr Danielle Schoenaker. Photo by Trudy Simpkin.

The research also showed that women with childhood trauma are more likely to have poorer lifestyles as adults.

“They were more likely to have an unhealthy diet, to smoke and to use illicit drugs,” said report author, Research Fellow in (Clinical) Epidemiology, Dr Danielle Schoenaker.

The study included over 6,000 women aged between 18 and 42 years who took part in the Australian Longitudinal Study on Women’s Health.

Professor Leonie Callaway and Professor Gita Mishra from the University of Queensland were also authors on the research.

The women reported on a number of adverse events they may have experienced during childhood, their lifestyle and health characteristics before pregnancy, and whether they were diagnosed with gestational diabetes.

“Our research found that one in eight women were exposed to moderate or severe childhood adversity,” added Dr Schoenaker. “Our findings suggest that parent education programs and home visits as part of antenatal and post-partum care are needed to help reduce the number of children exposed to traumatic events.” 

Women who experienced childhood trauma had a higher risk of gestational diabetes because they developed depressive symptoms in adulthood, not because they had poorer lifestyle.

Additional support for women exposed to childhood adversity through clinical and public health efforts may therefore also help reduce the risk of developing diabetes in pregnancy.

Full article

The Role of Childhood Adversity in the Development of Gestational Diabetes, American Journal of Preventative Medicine

Media contact

Louise Negline, Communications Coordinator

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Top photo: kieferpix

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