Hormone 'warns' of gestational diabetes risk

Testing levels of the hormone adiponectin can allow gestational diabetes to be diagnosed by week nine of pregnancy, new research suggests.

Gestational diabetes is usually not diagnosed until around week 22 of pregnancy and, if untreated, can lead to excess growth, jaundice and respiratory problems in the newborn.

A US research team led by Dr Kristine Lain of the University of Kentucky showed that low levels of adiponectin at week nine led to a 10-times greater risk of women developing gestational diabetes.

The team say that a study in a larger group of women will reveal whether adiponectin levels measured before pregnancy can be used to develop a test to identify women at risk of developing gestational diabetes.

The researchers studied 30 pregnant women who developed gestational diabetes and compared them with 29 matched controls who did not.

Levels of adiponectin were measured at week nine of pregnancy, grouped into quartiles and each of the four groups' risk of developing diabetes was calculated.

Patients underwent routine screening for gestational diabetes at weeks 24 to 28 and women with adiponectin levels in the bottom quartile were found to be 10 times more likely to have developed gestational diabetes.

This result did not change when factors such as maternal age, ethnicity and BMI were taken into account.

In the general population, adiponectin deficiency is known to be associated with an increased risk of type-2 diabetes.

However, few studies have examined adiponectin levels in pregnancy and the researchers say this is the first time that adiponectin levels have been shown to be reduced as early as week nine in women who develop gestational diabetes.

tom.moberly@haymarket.com

  • Clinical Endocrinology 2008; 69: 407

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