To determine possible differences in gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM) between aboriginal and non-aboriginal people in the Saskatoon Health District.
This was a prospective survey of all women admitted for childbirth to the Saskatoon Royal University Hospital between January and July 1998. We compared prevalence rates, risk factors, and outcomes of GDM between aboriginal and non-aboriginal women.
Information was obtained from 2,006 women, of whom 252 aboriginal and 1,360 non-aboriginal subjects had been tested for GDM. The overall rates of GDM were 3.5% for women in the general population and 11.5% for aboriginal women. For those living within the Saskatoon Health District, GDM rates were 3.7 and 6.4%, respectively. Multivariate analysis demonstrated that aboriginal ethnicity, most notably when combined with obesity, was an independent predictor for GDM. Pregravid BMI > or = 27 kg/m(2) and maternal age > or = 33 years were the most important risk factors for GDM in aboriginal women, whereas previous GDM, family history of diabetes, and maternal age > or = 38 years were the strongest predictors for GDM in non-aboriginal women.
There may be fundamental differences in GDM between aboriginal and non-aboriginal people. Because GDM contributes to an increased risk for type 2 diabetes in aboriginal women and their offspring, the impact of prevention and optimal treatment of GDM on the type 2 diabetes epidemic in susceptible populations are important areas for further investigation.