A new study carried out in the US by the National Institute of Child Health and Development has revealed a possible two way link between depression during the early stage of pregnancy and the development of gestational diabetes. The study also found a link between gestational diabetes and the likelihood of developing postpartum depression.
The results demonstrate “a modest association between depressive symptoms early in pregnancy and an increased risk of gestational diabetes”. If left untreated, gestational diabetes can pose a serious risk to the unborn child.
The study shows that women who developed gestational diabetes were four times more likely to experience postpartum depression, than women who didn’t. The study also highlighted the risk associated with perinatal depressive symptoms.
The risk of developing depression was the most pronounced in the first and second trimesters for non-obese women. Interestingly, it was completely non-existent for obese women. Women who showed continuously strong symptoms of depression, experienced the greatest risk of gestational diabetes.
The study and the data
The data for the study came from the prospective National Institute of Child Health and Human Development Fetal Growth Studies-Singleton cohort (2009–2013). It was collected at twelve US clinical centres. Pregnant women without psychiatric disorders, diabetes or other chronic conditions before pregnancy were followed throughout pregnancy.
Stephanie Hunkle, PhD, staff scientist in the Division of Intramural Population Health Research and author of the study said: “Until we learn more, physicians may want to consider observing pregnant women with depressive symptoms for signs of gestational diabetes. They also may want to monitor women who have had gestational diabetes for signs of postpartum depression.”