According to a new long-term study conducted by the University of Saskatchewan, diabetes is hitting Aboriginal women harder than was originally thought.

Though it has been documented in recent years that Aboriginal Canadians had the highest diabetes rates of anyone in the country, the new study points at how the incidence of diabetes of amongst Native women is four times greater than among non-Aboriginal women.

For men, the rate of new diabetes cases in Aboriginals is 2.5 times that of non-Aboriginals.

Most of the new cases of diabetes in First Nations individuals are now occurring in those between the ages of 20 and 50. For the general population, most of the new cases are being diagnosed in those that are over 60 years of age.

The study indicates that the increase in Type 2 diabetes in Aboriginal women is due to their much higher rate of gestational diabetes. While only 3 to 4 percent of non-Native women develop pregnancy-related diabetes, the rate for Aboriginal women was from 12 to 20 percent.

Gestational diabetes is also known for increasing a woman’s risk of developing Type 2 diabetes later on in life.