Welcome to the Diabetes & Women's Health Study Website


The Diabetes & Women’s Health (DWH) study is a study investigating factors (medical, diet, lifestyle, genetic, epigenetic and their interactions) that determine the risk of subsequent development of type 2 diabetes and comorbidities (i.e., cardiovascular diseases, renal dysfunction, etc.) among women who had Gestational Diabetes Mellitus (GDM), a common pregnancy complication. The study, which is led by the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) at the National Institutes of Health, is being conducted in the US and Denmark among study participants in the Nurses’ Health Study II and the Danish National Birth Cohort. The study will investigate pregnancy history, body weight, lifestyle factors (e.g., diet, exercise, and sleep), biochemical markers (in blood, urine, toenails, and saliva) and genetic factors and their interactions in relation to the risk of developing type 2 diabetes and complications such as cardiovascular diseases and renal diseases. The DWH study invited participants with a history of GDM from these US and Danish studies. Findings from previous studies indicate that women who had diabetes in pregnancy experienced a substantially increased risk for type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular diseases after pregnancy and are regarded as a high risk population for these chronic diseases. 

Want to learn more?

Explore the FAQ and other links on this page to learn more about the Diabetes & Women’s Health Study. Find out what is involved for each participant, why we have reached out to you and more general health information about gestational diabetes and potential long-term health effects.


The data collection for the DWH study was completed in September 2016 with a total recruitment exceeding 4000! We could not have done this without your support and commitment. The project investigators and staff greatly appreciate the time and effort that all participants contributed to this important research. Our focus now is on using this data to better understand important aspects of the progression from GDM to type 2 diabetes and complications (i.e. cardiovascular diseases, renal dysfunction, etc.,). For updates on our publications please see the NICHD website https://www.nichd.nih.gov/about/org/diphr/eb/research/Pages/diabetes-women.aspx.


We’d like to share with you about some exciting findings!

We have recently evaluated which lifestyle factors were associated with development of GDM and progression to type 2 diabetes. The importance of this research has been recently highlighted by NICHD’s Institute Director. The results of this study have been recently published in the British Medical Journal. A separate podcast discussing these findings with Dr. Zhang, the lead author and Principal Investigator on the study, has been posted to the NIH website.
  • Dietary patterns: Several dietary patterns, supporting a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, whole grains, low in red and processed meats and sugar sweetened beverages, were associated with a lower risk of GDM and progression to diabetes.
  • Individual foods & nutrients: Vegetable sources of fats and proteins (e.g., nuts) were associated with a lower risk of GDM, while animal sources (e.g., red meat) were associated with a greater risk of GDM. Eating fewer carbs was also associated with a lower risk, but only when carbs were replaced with vegetable fats and proteins rather than animal sources.
  • Moderate exercise: Women who increased physical activity levels had lower risk of progression from GDM to diabetes, compared with those who maintained their moderate-intensity physical activity.

Comments from JAMA Internal Medicine: "The study by Bao et al. in this issue sends a hopeful message to women with GDM, suggesting that it is possible to reduce diabetes risk through the modifiable lifestyle behavior. Considering the urgency of addressing the current diabetes and obesity epidemics, their article is also a call to action for researchers and health systems to develop successful interventions to increase physical activity among women of reproductive age."

We could not have done this without your support! Please continue checking back as we update this page with the latest findings from the study!