Study shows link between diabetes, depression in pregnant women

September 19, 2016 GMT

There’s a tie between gestational diabetes and depression during and after pregnancy, according to new research from the National Institutes of Health.

According to the NIH study, published online in Diabetologia, women who reported feeling depressed during the first two trimesters of pregnancy were nearly twice as likely to develop gestational diabetes. A separate analysis found that women who developed gestational diabetes were more likely to report postpartum depression six weeks after giving birth, compared to a similar group of women who did not develop gestational diabetes.

Gestational diabetes is a form of diabetes (high blood sugar level) occurring only in pregnancy, which if untreated may cause serious health problems for mother and infant.


“Our data suggest that depression and gestational diabetes may occur together,” said the study’s first author, Stefanie Hinkle, in a news release. Hinkle is also staff scientist in the Division of Intramural Population Health Research at the NIH’s Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. “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.”

Although obesity is known to increase the risk for gestational diabetes, the likelihood of gestational diabetes was higher for non-obese women reporting depression than for obese women with depression.

Currently, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends that physicians screen patients at least once for depression during the perinatal period, which takes place between 22 weeks of pregnancy through 7 days after birth.

The researchers also found a higher risk for postpartum depression among the women who had gestational diabetes. Of the women who developed gestational diabetes, nearly 15 percent experienced depressive symptoms after birth, which was more than four times that of women who had not had gestational diabetes.