Interrupting the Pathway from Gestational Diabetes Mellitus to Type 2 Diabetes: The Role of Primary Care


Our objective was to describe patient-, provider-, and health systems-level factors associated with likelihood of obtaining guideline-recommended follow-up to prevent or mitigate early-onset type 2 diabetes after a birth complicated by gestational diabetes (GDM).


This study presents a retrospective cohort analysis of de-identified demographic and health care system characteristics, and clinical claims data for 12,622 women with GDM who were continuously enrolled in a large, national U.S. health plan from January 31, 2006, to September 30, 2012. Data were obtained from the OptumLabs Data Warehouse. We extracted 1) known predictors of follow-up (age, race, education, comorbidities, GDM severity); 2) novel factors that had potential as predictors (prepregnancy use of preventive measures and primary care, delivery hospital size); and 3) outcome variables (glucose testing within one and 3 years and primary care visit within 3 years after delivery).


Asian ethnicity, higher education, GDM severity, and delivery in a larger hospital predicted greater likelihood of post-GDM follow-up. Women with a prepregnancy primary care visit of any type were two to three times more likely to receive postpartum glucose testing and primary care at once year, and 3.5 times more likely to have obtained testing and primary care at 3 years after delivery.


A history of use of primary care services before a pregnancy complicated by GDM seems to enhance the likelihood of postdelivery surveillance and preventive care, and thus reduce the risk of undetected early-onset type 2 diabetes. An emphasis on promoting early primary care connections for women in their early reproductive years, in addition to its overall value, is a promising strategy for ensuring follow-up testing and care for women after complicated pregnancies that forewarn risk for later chronic illness. Health systems should focus on models of care that connect primary and reproductive/maternity care before, during, and long after pregnancies occur.

 2019 Sep 24. pii: S1049-3867(19)30453-0. doi: 10.1016/j.whi.2019.08.003. [Epub ahead of print]