Low levels of a protein known as sex hormone–binding globulin (SHBG) were associated with a five fold increase in risk of developing gestational diabetes.
Gestational diabetes is a form of diabetes that can develop in women during pregnancy and usually subsides after the birth. This form of diabetes is known to be more common in women with a high BMI.
High blood glucose levels in pregnancy, as a result of gestational diabetes can have a negative impact on the developing baby’s health and increases the risk of giving birth to a large baby, weighing 4.5 kg (10 lbs) or more.
Whilst all women are screened for whether gestational diabetes has developed during their pregnancy, there has not been a reliable pre-pregnancy test for predicting which women will develop the condition.
Researchers at the Kaiser Permanente care consortium studied 256 women that had developed gestational diabetes and over 500 patients that did not for the control group.
The study recorded BMI and SHBG levels of the women and data was adjusted to take into account factors such as ethnicity, alcohol intake, and any family history of diabetes. The study found that the women who had SHBG levels below the median average level, and a BMI value greater than 25, had five times the risk of developing gestational diabetes as women with a healthy BMI and SHBG levels equal or above the median.
The researchers note measuring SHBG levels provides a way to predict which mothers to be are at a greater risk of developing gestational diabetes.

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