A GENETIC risk score to identify people who would profit from lifestyle counselling has been developed by researchers to avoid gestational and post-partum diabetes. This research would be particularly beneficial for expectant mothers who are at risk and, and could provide individually-tailored preventative measures.
One of the most common health-related complications during pregnancy is gestational diabetes. Approximately one-fifth of pregnant females in Finland are diagnosed with this condition, and it has a serious impact on the health of both the mother and child. In a study performed at the University of Helsinki, Finland, a team of researchers explored the effects of lifestyle mediations on patients who were likely to develop gestational diabetes, as well as ways to prevent it from progressing. In the Finnish Gestational Diabetes Prevention Study (RADIEL), participants were subjected to high-intensity physical exercise and dietary interventions. A polygenic risk score was used to describe the genetic risk of diabetes using gene variants that are associated with an increased risk of developing Type 2 diabetes.
Elevated glucose levels during mid- and late pregnancy as well as 1 year after childbirth were associated with the risk score of Type 2 diabetes. The findings of the study showed that the genetic risk also affected the relationship between lifestyle counselling and gestational diabetes. Remarkably, the researchers found that by using genetic risk scoring, it would be possible to know which pregnant females would be at risk, and therefore easier to put into place prevention measures that would be unique to them. This would be beneficial for the expectant mothers and their children. It was also noted by the researchers that each case was unique and of very high importance. “Our study offers one possible explanation for the contradictory results of previous studies investigating the prevention of gestational diabetes till now,” said Emilia Huvinen, specialist in obstetrics and gynaecology at the University of Helsinki.