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Low Levels of Specific Protein Before Pregnancy Increases Risk of Gestational Diabetes

Hands with Ring on Pregnant BellyWomen with low levels of an important protein known to bind to sex hormones before pregnancy have an increased risk of developing gestational diabetes during pregnancy compared to women with higher levels of the protein, says a Kaiser Permanente study published in the journal Diabetes Care.

Sex hormone-binding globulin, or SHBG, is a protein that binds to sex hormones, specifically androgens and estrogens. SHBG is produced mostly by the liver and is released into the bloodstream. The brain, uterus, testes, and placenta also produce the protein.

The most important function of SHBG is to control the amount of testosterone available in the body. Women with low SHBG levels have higher testosterone levels. Higher testosterone levels are associated with insulin resistance, a risk factor for gestational diabetes.

States Monique M. Hedderson, PhD, principal investigator of the study and research scientist with the Kaiser Permanente Division of Research in Oakland, California, “This study is among the first to find that low circulating levels of sex hormone binding globulin, measured years before pregnancy, are associated with increased risk of gestational diabetes.”

For the present study, the researchers identified 256 women who developed gestational diabetes during pregnancy and 497 without the condition. All the women had provided voluntary blood samples between 1985 and 1996 during routine care and had given birth in Kaiser Permanente’s Northern California Region, on average 6 years later.

According to the study, the risk of gestation diabetes increased as SHBG levels decreased.

Although the researchers found a strong association between high body mass index (BMI) and an increased risk of developing gestational diabetes, the risk of gestational diabetes increased as SHBG levels decreased regardless of BMI.

Gestational diabetes is a serious pregnancy complication that increases the risk of type 2 diabetes in women later in life and increases the risk of obesity and diabetes in children.

References

Low Pre-Pregnancy Levels of Specific Protein Linked to Higher Risk of Diabetes During Pregnancy: http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/releases/272882.php
Low Pre-Pregnancy Levels of Specific Protein Linked to Higher Risk of Diabetes During Pregnancy: http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/low-pre-pregnancy-levels-of-specific-protein-linked-to-higher-risk-of-diabetes-during-pregnancy-246531121.html
Prepregnancy SHBG Concentrations and Risk for Subsequently Developing Gestational Diabetes Mellitus: http://care.diabetesjournals.org/content/37/5/1296.abstract?sid=58618be3-cb0a-43af-b3a6-3bf7f249ed6c

Image Credits

Hands with Ring on Pregnant Belly: http://www.freeimages.com/photo/660556

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