Intimate partner violence : a risk factor for gestational diabetes

Pheiffer, Carmen ; Dias, Stephanie ; Adam, Sumaiya (2020-10-26)

CITATION: Pheiffer, C., Dias, S., & Adam, S. 2020. Intimate Partner Violence: A Risk Factor for Gestational Diabetes. International journal of environmental research and public health, 17(21). doi:10.3390/ijerph17217843

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The early detection and management of gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM) is an important public health goal. GDM, which is defined as a glucose intolerance that develops during pregnancy, affects about 14% of pregnancies globally, and without effective treatment, it is associated with adverse short- and long-term maternal and neonatal outcomes. Risk-factor screening is an acceptable and affordable strategy to enable risk stratification and intervention. However, common biological risk factors such as overweight or obesity, excessive gestational weight gain, and family history of diabetes often have poor predictive ability, failing to identify a large proportion of women at risk of developing GDM. Accumulating evidence implicate psychosocial factors in contributing to GDM risk. As such, intimate partner violence (IPV), through its contributing effects on maternal stress and depression, presents a plausible risk factor for GDM. Experiencing IPV during pregnancy may dysregulate the hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis, leading to increased cortisol secretion and insulin resistance. These effects may exacerbate the insulin-resistant environment characteristic of pregnancy, thus increasing GDM risk. This review explores the relationship between IPV and GDM. We highlight studies that have linked IPV with GDM and propose a biological mechanism that connects IPV and GDM. Recommendations for IPV screening strategies to prevent GDM are discussed.

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