How does the prevalence of gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM) vary by race?

Updated: Apr 29, 2020
  • Author: Thomas R Moore, MD; Chief Editor: George T Griffing, MD  more...
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The prevalence of gestational diabetes is strongly related to the patient's race and culture. Prevalence rates are higher in black, Hispanic, Native American, and Asian women than in white women. For example, typically, only 1.5-2% of white women develop gestational diabetes mellitus, whereas Native Americans from the southwestern United States may have rates as high as 15%. In Hispanic, black, and Asian populations, the incidence is 5-8%.

In these high-risk populations, the recurrence risk with future pregnancies has been reported to be as high as 68%. [16] In addition, approximately one-third will develop overt diabetes mellitus within 5 years of delivery, with higher-risk ethnicities having risks nearing 50%. [17]

Race also influences many complications of diabetes mellitus in pregnancy. For instance, black women have been shown to have lower rates of macrosomia, despite similar levels of glycemic control. Conversely, Hispanic women have higher rates of macrosomia and birth injury than women of other ethnicities, even with aggressive management. [18, 19]

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