Early gestational diabetes diagnostic

Gestational diabetes occurs when a woman becomes resistant to the effects of insulin during pregnancy and isn’t able to make enough to overcome the resistance. It usually becomes evident in the second or third trimester. Gestational diabetes can cause complications for both mother and baby during and after birth. These include the baby growing larger than usual, which may lead to difficulties during the delivery and increases the likelihood of needing induced labour or a caesarean section, and increased risk of premature birth and stillbirth. However, the risk of complications can be reduced if the disease is detected early enough and well managed.

Scientists at the University of Oxford have developed a test where circulating biomarkers from the placenta give an early indication of mothers who either are already presenting with gestational diabetes or are highly likely to develop the disease. Early diagnosis is key to managing the condition well and reducing complications arising from the disease.

Gestational diabetes occurs when a woman becomes resistant to the effects of insulin during pregnancy and isn’t able to make enough to overcome the resistance. It usually becomes evident in the second or third trimester.

Gestational diabetes can cause complications for both mother and baby during and after birth. These include the baby growing larger than usual, which may lead to difficulties during the delivery and increases the likelihood of needing induced labour or a caesarean section, and increased risk of premature birth and stillbirth. However, the risk of complications can be reduced if the disease is detected early enough and well managed.

Complications of gestational diabetes

Currently, there is no method of determining whether a pregnant woman is likely to develop gestational diabetes. The only diagnostic test is an oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT), which is done late on in gestation, at around 24-28 weeks, and is dependent upon the patient already has the disease. Moreover, the OGTT is not a particularly effective test, in part because of lack of compliance by patients who are required to fast before having the test.

Scientists at the University of Oxford have developed a test where circulating biomarkers from the placenta give an early indication of mothers who either are already presenting with gestational diabetes or are highly likely to develop the disease. Early diagnosis is key to managing the condition well and reducing complications arising from the disease.

If gestational diabetes is not detected and left untreated, it can increase the risk of serious birth complications for both mother and baby. These include macrosomia (large babies), premature birth, miscarriage and stillbirth. In addition to the increased risk of complications associated with gestation and delivery, there are also serious post-natal complications associated with gestational diabetes, for example, there is an increased risk that both mother and baby will develop type 2 diabetes later in life.

Around 35,000 women are diagnosed with gestational diabetes in the UK alone with the global gestational diabetes market expected to grow at a CAGR of 5.4% up to 2023.

The increase in the obese population and lifestyle factors are driving the growth of the market. Not only can this invention be used to diagnose gestational diabetes early, it can predict whether a subject is likely to develop gestational diabetes and subsequently clinicians can better advise on the prognosis.

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