Kaiser Permanente: Women of Chinese and Korean heritage may develop diabetes during pregnancy

January 04, 2016

"Many previous studies have lumped all Asians and Pacific Islanders together - we now know that the risk for developing GDM varies greatly depending on your specific ethnic background," said study co-author Teresa Hillier, MD, MS, an endocrinologist and senior investigator at the Kaiser Permanente Center for Health Research. "Future studies should also look at whether women in these higher risk groups also have more complications."

This study involved 16,757 women aged 13-39, who gave birth in the Kaiser Permanente Health Plan in Hawaii between 1995 and 2003. Some women had more than one child during that time, bringing the total number of pregnancies to 22,110. Researchers obtained ethnic classification from the mothers' birth certificates on file with the Hawaii Department of Health.

All women in the Kaiser Permanente system are 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, and 6.7 percent of women met the Carpenter and Coustan threshold for gestational diabetes.

"This study underscores Kaiser Permanente's commitment to identify differences in risk and clinical outcomes for different ethnic and racial groups," said Winston F. Wong, MD, MS, medical director of Kaiser Permanente's Community Benefit Disparities Improvement and Quality Initiatives. "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."

SOURCE Kaiser Permanente