New Test More Accurately Predicts Development of Type 2 Diabetes in Women Post-Pregnancy

Gestational diabetes significantly increases the risk of developing type 2 diabetes within 5-years after giving birth.

A new technique was able to accurately predict the development of type 2 diabetes in women with gestational diabetes during a recent study.

Gestational diabetes affects between 3% and 13% of all pregnant women and increases their risk of developing type 2 diabetes by 20% to 50% within 5-years post pregnancy.

“After delivering a baby, many women may find it difficult to schedule 2 hours for another glucose test,” said researcher Michael Wheeler. “What if we could create a much more effective test that could be given to women while they’re still in the hospital? Once diabetes has developed, it’s very difficult to reverse.”

Normally, diabetes is diagnosed by measuring glucose levels in the blood. A team from the University of Toronto and the Kaiser Permanente Northern California Division of Research identified several other metabolites that indicate early changes, and help signify the risk of diabetes well before changes in glucose levels.

With the newly developed technique called targeted metabolomics, researchers tested fasting blood samples from 1035 women with gestational diabetes within 2 months after delivery. The new technique was able to predict with 83% accuracy which women will develop type 2 diabetes later on.

The new technique’s accuracy was significantly better than conventional methods that involve a blood test followed by an oral glucose tolerance test, which is both inconvenient and time consuming. The American Diabetes Association recommends that women with gestational diabetes receive a type 2 diabetes screening 6 to 12 weeks after delivery, followed by every 1 to 3 years afterwards for life.

Compliance rates for this recommendation are less than 40% in some settings. It is believed that this 2-hour oral glucose test might be among the reasons for such low rates.

“Early prevention is the key to minimizing the devastating effects of diabetes on health outcomes,” said researcher Erica Gunderson. “By identifying women soon after delivery, we can focus our resources on those at greatest risk who may benefit most from concerted early prevention efforts.”

Additionally, the new method could be able to predict individuals who may develop type 2 diabetes in the general population. Through the use of a next-generation blood test that has more accuracy, it could help determine which people would benefit most from interventions to prevent the development of type 2 diabetes.

Researchers plan to conduct more tests on women with gestational diabetes to determine if there are any racial and ethnic differences in prediction. They also hope to evaluate high risk groups with prediabetes to determine whether targeted metabolomics could predict type 2 diabetes in the general population.