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Epidemiology Branch (EB)

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EB Research - Perinatal Epidemiology

Diabetes and Women's Health (DWH) Study

The DWH Study, based on a retrospective cohort design, aims to understand and discover novel pathways and determinants underlying the progression from gestational diabetes (GDM) to type 2 diabetes (T2DM) and complications.

GDM is a common pregnancy complication. Women who develop impaired glucose tolerance and/or GDM in pregnancy are at substantially increased risk for T2DM in the years following pregnancy. Determinants underlying the transition from GDM to T2DM and co-morbidities are not well studied. There is limited information about the genetic and environmental factors that impact this transition. These critical data gaps serve as the impetus for this study with the overall goal of investigating genetic factors and their interactions with risk factors amenable to clinical or public health intervention in relation to the development of T2DM and co-morbidities among the women at high risk and of understanding the underlying molecular mechanisms. A secondary goal of this study is to collect baseline information of children born from the pregnancies complicated by glucose intolerance.

Data collection for this study is built upon two large existing cohorts: the Nurses' Health Study II (NHS-II) and the Danish National Birth Cohort (DNBC). In the present study, we will enroll approximately 4,500 women with a history of GDM who were members of either the NHS II or DNBC. After enrollment, we will follow participants for an additional four years to collect updated information on major clinical and environmental factors including, but not limited to diet, physical activity and anthropometric information that may predict T2DM risk; to collect timed biospecimens including blood, urine and toenails to measure genetic and biochemical markers (both pathway specific and non-targeted) implicated in glucose metabolism.

For more information on the Diabetes and Women’s Health Study, visit External Web Site Policy.

Principal Investigator

Cuilin Zhang, M.D., M.P.H., Ph.D.

DIPHR Collaborators


  • Bao W, Hu FB, Rong S, Rong Y, Bowers K, Schisterman EF, Liu L, Zhang C. Predicting risk of type 2 diabetes mellitus with genetic risk models based on established genome-wide association markers: a systematic review. Am J Epidemiol (In Press).
  • Song Y, Yeung E, Liu A, VanderWeele TJ, Chen L, Lu C, Liu C, Schisterman EF, Ning Y, Zhang C. Pancreatic beta-cell function and type 2 diabetes risk: quantify the causal effect using a Mendelian randomization approach based on meta-analyses. Hum Mol Genet, 2012;21:5010-8. PMID: 22936689
  • Tobias DK, Hu FB, Chavarro J, Rosner B, Mozaffarian D, Zhang C.  Healthful dietary patterns and type 2 diabetes mellitus risk among women with a history of gestational diabetes mellitus. Archives of Internal Medicine. 2012, 172(20):1566-72. PMID: 22987062
Last Updated Date: 08/23/2013
Last Reviewed Date: 09/09/2014

Contact Information

Name: Dr Enrique Fabian Schisterman
Chief and Senior Investigator
Epidemiology Branch
Phone: 301-435-6893
Fax: 301-402-2084

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