Posted on: June 17th, 2021

New studies are revealing data that links elevated levels of maternal lipids, including triglycerides with gestational diabetes. These new studies include systematic reviews and meta-analyses of recent research.

Diabetes research from Jiamiao Hu, MD, at the College of Food Science at Fujian in China and the Diabetes Research Center at Leicester General in the UK has stated:

“Although the cause of gestational diabetes is not fully understood, maternal obesity, older maternal age, and women from certain ethnic groups have been identified as being at high risk. Increasingly, attention has been given to the associations between impaired glucose metabolism, abnormal circulating lipid levels, and consequent worsening of glucose intolerance.”

This research has concluded that the exact relationship between plasma lipid metabolism and maternal glucose remains unclear. Other recent studies from other laboratories have also noted that gestational diabetes induces a state of dyslipidemia, which is linked to insulin resistance.

Reviewing Maternal Lipid Associated with Gestational Diabetes Tests

The systematic review and meta-analysis included 292 studies that reported on circulating lipid profiles during pregnancy in those with and without gestational diabetes until February 2021. These studies included 97,880 pregnant women, of whom 28,232 had gestational diabetes and 69,648 served as controls.

The meta-analysis of data from these recent studies included 292 entries reporting on lipid circulation profiles in pregnant women both with and without gestational diabetes. Of the participants in the study of 97,880 women, 28,232 had gestational diabetes with the other 69,648 women serving as controls for the data.

The pertinent data and meta-analysis from all the recent studies noted that:

“There was a higher percentage of triglyceride levels among women with gestational diabetes by 20%, with a pooled weighted mean difference (WMD) of 0.388 mM (95% CI, 0.336-0.439; P < .001) between pregnant women with gestational diabetes and controls. Women with gestational diabetes also had higher total cholesterol (WMD, 0.149 mM; 95% CI, 0.082-0.214; P < .001), LDL (WMD, 0.079 mM; 95% CI, 0.018-0.14; P = .011) and VLDL (WMD, 0.216 mM; 95% CI, 0.1-0.332; P < .001) as well as lower HDL (WMD, –0.079 mM; 95% CI, –0.1 to –0.058; P < .001) compared with controls.”

One of the biggest takeaways from this data is that elevated triglyceride levels started in the first trimester and continued throughout the pregnancy.

The differences between those with and without gestational diabetes in triglyceride levels were significantly associated with age, BMI, study continent, oral glucose tolerance test procedure, and gestational diabetes diagnosis criteria in meta-regression analyses.

Other noted differences between the participants with and without gestational diabetes were age, body mass, geolocation, and gestational diabetes diagnoses from meta-regression data.

Potential Testing Variables

According to the researchers, high heterogeneity observed in this study suggested that triglyceride levels may be influenced by variables, including ethnicity and BMI, which have previously been identified as gestational diabetes risk factors.

Researchers noted that high heterogeneity within the study, suggesting that the differences in participants may have influenced triglyceride levels. The factors (age, body mass, geolocation) have all previously been associated with gestational diabetes risk factors.

The researchers also noted that:

“The findings from this study also suggest that elevated lipid levels, particularly triglycerides, is associated with future risk of gestational diabetes and could potentially be integrated into a risk stratification algorithm to calculate the risk of gestational diabetes.”

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