Adiponectin Levels Predict Gestational Diabetes

Early warning signs of gestational diabetes can be found within nine weeks of gestation.

Researchers at the University of Kentucky have found that early warning signs of gestational diabetes (GDM) can be found within nine weeks of gestation. Currently, the clinical diagnosis for GDM is made within 20-22 weeks of gestation. Published in the October issue of Clinical Endocrinology, new research found that women likely to develop GDM have “reduced levels of an insulin-sensitive hormone, adiponectin, as early as nine weeks into the pregnancy.” Adiponectin protects against metabolic syndrome and other conditions that can lead to type 2 diabetes. Low levels can increase diabetes risk even in healthy individuals who are not pregnant.

Lead researcher Dr. Kristine Lain “compared 30 pregnant women, who developed GDM later in pregnancy, with 29 pregnant women who did not develop GDM, as controls.” Blood tests measuring adiponectin levels were taken at nine weeks and routine screening tests for GDM were administered at 24-28 weeks. Based on the adiponectin data collected, a regression analysis was then used to determine the probability of developing GDM.

Women with significantly lower levels of adiponectin during their first trimester went on to develop GDM, and women with adiponectin levels that were in the lower quartile were 10 times more likely to develop GDM.

“At this stage of pregnancy, most women who develop gestational diabetes have normal glucose tolerance, so lower adiponectin concentrations could act as an early indicator for gestational diabetes. Using adiponectin, we may be able to predict quite early in pregnancy who is at risk of developing gestational diabetes,” said Lain.

Maternal age, BMI, race, and smoking habits were found to have no impact on prevalence of GDM. Studies in a larger cohort of women are still needed, but this evidence gives hope that measuring adiponectin levels prior to pregnancy might help determine a high-risk group for GDM before pregnancy.

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