Can diabetes be predicted years before onset?

Can diabetes be predicted years before onset?

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Improved prediction of type 2 diabetes?

Special metabolites in the blood indicate whether a woman will develop type 2 diabetes after transient gestational diabetes. Based on this knowledge, a test could be developed in the future that identifies women with an increased risk.

A recent study, led by researchers from the University of Toronto, found that blood metabolites indicate whether a woman will develop type 2 diabetes after pregnancy. The results of the study have now been published in the English language journal "PLOS Medicine".

How common is gestational diabetes?

About one in ten women develop gestational diabetes during pregnancy, which puts them at higher risk for type 2 diabetes. Around 30 to 50 percent of these women then develop type 2 diabetes within ten years after giving birth.

Complications from gestational diabetes

Gestational diabetes impairs the body's ability to regulate blood sugar levels. The disease can lead to serious complications such as vision loss, neurological problems, and heart and kidney diseases.

What should women with gestational diabetes pay attention to?

Women with gestational diabetes are advised to have an oral glucose tolerance test annually after delivery, which measures the body's ability to remove sugar from the bloodstream. However, the procedure is time-consuming and labor-intensive and is only carried out by less than half of the women.

Why a new test is needed

When women have a newborn child at home, they often simply do not think about their own health or simply do not have time for it. The goal of the research team was therefore to develop a simple blood test that can predict the risk of diabetes, the researchers report.

Predictive metabolic signatures identified

In a pilot study conducted in 2016 on 1,033 women with gestational diabetes, the researchers identified metabolic signatures that are predictive of type 2 diabetes for the first time. The current study builds on previous research and follows the same cohort of women over a longer period of time.

Blood samples were taken several times during the study

Baseline blood samples were taken between six and nine weeks after birth and then twice within two years. Women's health was tracked for up to eight years using their electronic medical records. During this time, 173 women developed type 2 diabetes. Her blood samples were compared to 485 healthy women who also participated in the study.

Metabolic dysregulation indicates later problems

In the group of women who develop type 2 diabetes in the early postpartum phase, there is a so-called metabolic dysregulation, which indicates that an underlying problem that can be identified already exists, the researchers explain .

Prediction with accuracy of over 85 percent

The research group emphasizes that the metabolic signature identified during the examination can predict with more than 85 percent accuracy whether a woman will develop type 2 diabetes.

What do amino acids and lipid molecules indicate?

It is not surprising that sugar molecules play a prominent role among the identified compounds, the researchers report. Since amino acids and lipid molecules were also present, this points to fundamental problems in protein or fat metabolism.

In fact, the test's predictive power decreased when amino acids and lipids were excluded. This indicates that processes that go beyond sugar metabolism can occur very early in the development of the disease. The result could explain why complications occur in people with type 2 diabetes even if the blood sugar is strictly controlled by medication.

New blood test in prospect?

Based on the new findings, the researchers hope to develop a simple blood test that can be carried out early after childbirth. The women participating in the study will be invited to a 10-year follow-up visit to test for type 2 diabetes. The information obtained in this way will drive the development of the new blood test even further, the researchers report. (as)

Author and source information

This text corresponds to the specifications of the medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical doctors.


  • Mi Lai, Ying Liu, Gabriele V. Ronnett, Anne Wu, Brian J. Cox et al .: Amino acid and lipid metabolism in post-gestational diabetes and progression to type 2 diabetes: A metabolic profiling study, in Plos Medicine (published May 20 .2020), Plos Medicine

Video: Pharmacology - Diabetes Medication (June 2022).


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