Biomarker aids in gestational diabetes risk prediction

Measurement of a particular blood biomarker during a pregnant woman's first trimester may be a good way to help predict how likely it is she'll face gestational diabetes, Japanese researchers have found.

It's a diabetic variation driven by a spike in blood glucose that can give moms pregnancy-related high blood pressure and cause health problems in their newborns. And spotting its emergence could allow for more effective treatment of both mother and child. The Endocrine Society's Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism will be publishing the finding, generated by a research team that includes scientists from Tokyo Women's Medical University, Osaka University and Tokyo's National Center for Child Health and Development.

Soluble (pro)renin receptor, or s(P)RR is the biomarker in question. Researchers screened for it in the blood of 716 pregnant women during their first trimester. Of that number, 44 of the women developed full-blown gestational diabetes. Looked at another way, women with high s(P)RR levels were nearly three times as likely to develop the condition than their peers with the lowest levels of s(P)RR.

This is a case where using the biomarker to screen earlier for women who are at high risk of developing gestational diabetes could have lasting benefit. Gestational diabetes develops by the second trimester, so spotting the risk for development in the first trimester could help women manage the condition both sooner and better. Without intervention, the researchers note the condition can mushroom into health problems, such as hypoglycemia and jaundice, in the child, and pregnancy-related high blood pressure in the mother.

While more research is needed here, the team said they see the finding as creating a reliable way to help high-risk moms manage their health and their child's.

"The method identified in this study offers every pregnant woman the opportunity to know her risk early on," study author Atsuhiro Ichihara, of Tokyo Women's Medical University, said in a statement.

- read the release