Objective — Our purpose was to determine the long-term effect on self-perceived health status and maternal perceptions of the offspring's health status after women had been labeled with a diagnosis of gestational diabetes.
Study Design — We designed a mail survey of women who had participated in a large cohort study 3 to 5 years earlier. A tentative address list was developed for 139 women diagnosed with gestational diabetes and 406 matched controls; 33 and 89 questionnaires, respectively, were returned as "wrong address," but 106 case and 317 control addresses were potentially valid. The primary analysis compared cases and controls on the general health scale of the SF-36. Secondary outcomes included comparisons of the groups' mean results on a worry scale, ratings of the health of the child born in the index pregnancy, disability days, physician visits, diabetes preventive behaviors, and diabetes risk appraisal.
Results — The usable response rates were 65 of 106 (61.3%) and 197 of 317 (62.1%), with no meaningful demographic differences found between respondents and nonrespondents. For general health, the mean score for cases was 68.9 (SD 22.34) vs 73.8 (SD 19.86) for controls, p = 0.05 (prespecified, one-tailed). After factors found to be independently related to health perception (age, race, birth place, and comorbidity) were controlled, the differences narrowed, with a mean score for cases of 70.09 versus 73.38 for controls, p = 0.11, two-tailed. Compared with controls, cases were more worried about their own health (p = 0.02, two-tailed), rated their children as less healthy (p = 0.005, two-tailed), and perceived themselves as more likely to have diabetes (p < 0.0001, two-tailed).
Conclusion — The diagnosis of gestational diabetes may lead to long-term changes in how women view their own health status and that of the child born during the affected pregnancy.