Lifestyle and health status in a sample of Swedish women four years after pregnancy: A comparison of women with a history of normal pregnancy and women with a history of gestational diabetes mellitus
Despite the recommendations to continue the regime of healthy food and physical activity (PA) postpartum for women with previous gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM), the scientific evidence reveals that these recommendations may not be complied to. This study compared lifestyle and health status in women whose pregnancy was complicated by GDM with women who had a normal pregnancy and delivery.The inclusion criteria were women with GDM (ICD-10: O24.4 A and O24.4B) and women with uncomplicated pregnancy and delivery in 2005 (ICD-10: O80.0). A random sample of women fulfilling the criteria (n = 882) were identified from the Swedish Medical Birth Register. A questionnaire was sent by mail to eligible women approximately four years after the pregnancy. A total of 444 women (50.8%) agreed to participate, 111 diagnosed with GDM in their pregnancy and 333 with normal pregnancy/delivery.Women with previous GDM were significantly older, reported higher body weight and less PA before the index pregnancy. No major differences between the groups were noticed regarding lifestyle at the follow-up. Overall, few participants fulfilled the national recommendations of PA and diet. At the follow-up, 19 participants had developed diabetes, all with previous GDM. Women with previous GDM reported significantly poorer self-rated health (SRH), higher level of sick-leave and more often using medication on regular basis. However, a history of GDM or having overt diabetes mellitus showed no association with poorer SRH in the multivariate analysis. Irregular eating habits, no regular PA, overweight/obesity, and regular use of medication were associated with poorer SRH in all participants.Suboptimal levels of PA, and fruit and vegetable consumption were found in a sample of women with a history of GDM as well as for women with normal pregnancy approximately four years after index pregnancy. Women with previous GDM seem to increase their PA after childbirth, but still they perform their PA at lower intensity than women with a history of normal pregnancy. Having GDM at index pregnancy or being diagnosed with overt diabetes mellitus at follow-up did not demonstrate associations with poorer SRH four years after delivery.