It’s a common misconception that gestational diabetes just ‘goes away’ with no lasting health effects. Unfortunately, women who have had gestational diabetes are at a greater risk of diabetes long-term (even if signs and symptoms disappear after birth). Researchers are hoping to develop a test to help predict which mothers are more likely to get diabetes after a diagnosis of gestational diabetes. In the future, this could potentially help clinicians counsel their patients regarding preventive and management care.
Two research papers were released today looking at two different aspects of gestational diabetes: one paper focused on markers that could help predict whether a woman was likely to get gestational diabetes during pregnancy, while the other looked at markers that could indicate the likelihood that the mother will develop diabetes long-term after a pregnancy characterized by gestational diabetes.
Identifying Gestational Diabetes
A paper published in the journal Diabetes Care has identified several lipids that can be potentially used to identify gestational diabetes. The research team, led by Liangjian Lu of the University of Cambridge, found four biomarkers that had a moderate ability to predict gestational diabetes. These markers could potentially be used in making risk-factor-based screening more accurate.
Predicting Long-Term Diabetes After Gestational Diabetes
A paper published in Primary Diabetes Care indicates that women with elevated glycated hemoglobin (HbA1c) levels during their 3rd trimester should be closely monitored both during their pregnancy and after delivery for diabetes, as a concentration of HbA1c ≥36 mmol/mol (≥5.4%) was associated with a 5.5-fold increased risk of diabetes. Although the tool has low sensitivity (and thus is not suitable as a screening tool), it can still be “used as a strategy for selecting high-risk women for lifestyle interventions to prevent diabetes.” The researchers also recommended the test because it “can be performed without fasting, and is more reproducible and less cumbersome than an oral glucose tolerance test.”