Bidirectional Link Between Depression and Risk of Gestational Diabetes Interview with:

Cuilin Zhang MD, PhD Senior Investigator NICHD, National Institutes of Health

Dr. Cuilin Zhang

Cuilin Zhang MD, PhD
Senior Investigator
NICHD, National Institutes of Health What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Pregnant women are at high risk of developing depressive symptoms; at least 10% US women suffering from depression during pregnancy. Gestational diabetes is a common pregnancy complication, affecting 4-7% of pregnancies in the U.S..  Gestational diabetes has  adverse health implications on both women and their children.   Depression and glucose intolerance commonly co-occur among non-pregnant individuals; however, the temporal relationship between gestational diabetes and depression during pregnancy and the postpartum period is less understood.

We found a bidirectional link between depression and risk of gestational diabetes; depression was prospectively related to an increased risk of GDM. The risk was particularly high among those who were persistently depressed from early to mid pregnancy before the GDM screening test.  Women who developed gestational diabetes experienced an elevated risk of post-partum depression as well What should readers take away from your report?

Response: Remain mentally healthy and be happy during pregnancy and watch out for post-partum depression if they have high glucose levels in pregnancy. What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?

Response: Better understanding molecular mechanisms underlying the findings. Investigating strategies that may help prevent post-partum depression for women who develop diabetes in pregnancy. Is there anything else you would like to add?

Response: Clinicians may  pay particular attention to women with high depression scores when evaluating the risk of gestational diabetes. Thank you for your contribution to the community.


Stefanie N. Hinkle, Germaine M. Buck Louis, Shristi Rawal, Yeyi Zhu, Paul S. Albert, Cuilin Zhang. A longitudinal study of depression and gestational diabetes in pregnancy and the postpartum periodDiabetologia, 2016; DOI:10.1007/s00125-016-4086-1

Note: Content is Not intended as medical advice. Please consult your health care provider regarding your specific medical condition and questions.

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