Pre-Pregnancy Test for Gestational Diabetes

Gestational diabetes was more likely to develop in women who had low level of adiponectin

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Robert Carlson, M.D Beth Bolt, RPh

(RxWiki News) With gestational diabetes, pregnant women have high blood sugar levels that can seriously harm their baby’s health. Hormone testing before pregnancy may help catch those who are at high risk for this condition.

Adiponectin is a hormone that has been linked to improving insulin sensitivity (the way the body uses insulin to process blood sugar).

Scientists have recently found that low levels of this hormone before pregnancy may mean a high risk of developing gestational diabetes, especially in women who are overweight.

"Maintain a healthy weight to lower your risk for gestational diabetes."

Monique Hedderson, PhD, principal investigator of the study and research scientist with the Kaiser Permanente Division of Research in Oakland, California, compared data on 256 women who developed gestational diabetes to data on 497 pregnant women who did not.

Gestational diabetes, or glucose intolerance during pregnancy, is a condition in which a woman develops higher than normal blood sugar levels. The mother-to-be doesn't respond normally to her own insulin.

Without enough insulin, glucose (sugar) does not leave the blood and is not changed to energy, according to the American Diabetes Association. Glucose builds up in the blood to high levels — a condition called hyperglycemia.

Gestational diabetes affects an estimated 4 to 8 percent of pregnant women. The condition may lead to larger-than-normal babies and possible delivery complications.

The authors of this study noted that women with gestational diabetes were seven times more likely to develop type 2 diabetes later in life, and their children were more likely to become obese and develop diabetes themselves.

From blood sample information, the investigators analyzed levels of adiponectin before pregnancy.

They observed that overweight women with high levels of adiponectin were 1.7 times more likely to develop gestational diabetes than normal weight women with normal levels of the hormone.

Overweight women with the lowest levels of adiponectin, however, were almost seven times more likely to get the condition.

The risk for normal weight women with low levels of the hormone was 3.5 times greater than those with normal levels.

"Low adiponectin levels were linked with gestational diabetes even for women without traditional diabetes risk factors such as being overweight, so this could be an important clinical marker for women who may become pregnant,” said Dr. Hedderson in a press release.

“Adiponectin testing early in pregnancy may also help identify high-risk women who would benefit from early diagnosis and treatment of gestational diabetes," she said.

Adiponectin has been called the “fat-burning” hormone because it may raise the metabolic rate and stimulate weight loss. Produced by fat cells, the hormone generally decreases in people who are obese.

"Future research is needed to determine whether lifestyle interventions targeting diet and physical activity can increase adiponectin levels,” said Dr. Hedderson in a statement.

The study was published August 29 in Diabetes Care. The research was supported by Kaiser Permanente and, in part, by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development of the National Institutes of Health.

Review Date: 
September 2, 2013
Last Updated:
September 3, 2013