Kaiser Permanente conducted the study funded by the American Diabetes Association (ADA). The full report can be found in the December issue of the Ethnicity and Disease journal.
The report states, “Pacific Islanders, Filipinos, Puerto Ricans, and Samoans are also at higher-than-average risk – while Caucasian, Native-American, and African-American women have a lower-than-average risk.” The study followed 16,000 women in the state of Hawaii due to the high diversity of ethnicities in that Pacific island state.
To be clear the type of diabetes discussed in this report is gestational diabetes (GDM) that can, “lead to serious pregnancy and birthing complications, including early delivery and C-sections. It can also increase the child’s risk of developing obesity later in life.”
The reason this study has become important is because it is the first time multiple specific ethnicities were broken down in an effort to identify risk associations.
The PR Newswire reports states, “Researchers divided Asians into five ethnic sub-groups and found some striking differences: Korean and Chinese women have the greatest risk of developing GDM. Filipinos are next, but Japanese and Vietnamese women have the same risk as the rest of the population. Among three groups of Pacific Islanders, Samoans and other Pacific Islanders (including women from Fiji and Tahiti) have a higher-than-average risk, while women classified as Native Hawaiians are at average risk. Caucasian, Native-American, and African-American women have the lowest risk for developing GDM.”
Kathryn Pedula, MS, a researcher at the Kaiser Permanente Center for Health Research explains why her company views this as a landmark discovery, “All pregnant women and their caregivers need to be educated about gestational diabetes, but it is especially important for women in these ethnic groups at higher risk.”
The 16,000 + participants in the study were women who delivered babies through Kaiser Permanente Hawaii. Some women had more than one child during the study so the report actually reflects more than 22,000 births from 1995-2003.
Winston F. Wong, MD, MS is a medical director of Kaiser Permanente’s Community Benefit Disparities Improvement and Quality Initiatives. He told PR Newswire, “While we cannot eliminate the increased risk of prenatal diabetes among our Korean and Chinese patients, we use this kind of research to alert and empower our health care professionals and physicians to reduce disparities and achieve the best possible outcomes for our patients and their children.”
As part of this multi-year study mothers-to-be were, “screened for gestational diabetes between 24-28 weeks of pregnancy. If they have GDM, they are treated as part of routine care. More than 20 percent of women in the study had elevated glucose levels.”
MayoClinic.com describes Gestational Diabetes as, “Gestational diabetes is a type of diabetes that occurs only during pregnancy. Like other forms of diabetes, gestational diabetes affects the way your body uses sugar (glucose) — your body’s main source of fuel. Gestational diabetes can cause high blood sugar levels that are unlikely to cause problems for you, but can threaten the health of your unborn baby.
“Any pregnancy complication is concerning, but there’s good news. You can manage gestational diabetes by eating healthy foods, exercising regularly and, if necessary, taking medication. Taking good care of yourself can help ensure a healthy pregnancy for you and a healthy start for your baby.”