OAKLAND, Calif., May 2, 2014 Women with high levels of a common liver enzyme measured prior to pregnancy were twice as likely to subsequently develop gestational diabetes than those with the lowest levels, according to a Kaiser Permanente study published today in the journal Diabetes Care.
The liver plays an important role in regulating glucose levels in the body. The liver enzyme, called gamma-glutamyl transferase (known as GGT), is a common marker of liver function and has also been associated with insulin resistance, which can be a precursor to gestational diabetes and type 2 diabetes.
"Several biomarkers appear to be associated with the risk of gestational diabetes," said Monique M. Hedderson, PhD, senior author of the study and research scientist with the Kaiser Permanente Division of Research in Oakland, Calif. "This study and others we've done provide evidence that women who develop gestational diabetes have metabolic abnormalities even before pregnancy. In the future, we could potentially try to prevent gestational diabetes by intervening before women get pregnant."
Gestational diabetes, or glucose intolerance during pregnancy, has increased dramatically in recent decades and is now one of the most common complications of pregnancy. It can lead to the birth of larger-than-normal babies and subsequent delivery complications. According to recent studies, women with gestational diabetes are seven times more likely to develop type 2 diabetes later in life, and their children are at greater risk of becoming obese and developing diabetes themselves.
Researchers examined the medical records of 256 women who developed gestational diabetes during pregnancy and compared them with 497 women who did not. Those studied had voluntarily given blood samples between 1985 and 1996 during routine care and subsequently delivered an infant in Kaiser Permanente's Northern California region.
After adjusting for numerous po
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