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Corvera to Wall Street Journal: risk for gestational diabetes may be detectable prior to pregnancy

Study finds differences in fat cells of pregnant women with and without the condition

By Sandra Gray

UMass Medical School Communications

September 01, 2015
  Silvia Corvera, MD
  Silvia Corvera, MD

New research by UMass Medical School microbiologist Silvia Corvera, MD, and obstetrician Tiffany Moore Simas, MD, may lead to earlier diagnosis of gestational diabetes mellitus in pregnant women at risk for the condition, according to a Sept. 2 article in the Wall Street Journal.

Published in the journal Diabetologia, the study found differences between the fat cells of pregnant women with gestational diabetes mellitus and those with normal glucose tolerance. Fat cells in women with gestational diabetes had limited ability to expand, a characteristic which is associated with insulin resistance.

“The features that characterize fat cell abnormalities are likely present in women at risk for gestational diabetes before they become pregnant and may be useful in assessing their risk,” said Dr. Corvera, the Endowed Chair in Diabetes Research and professor of molecular medicine and cell & developmental biology. The interdisciplinary research team led by Corvera and Dr. Simas, the Joy McCann Professor for Women in Medicine and associate professor of obstetrics & gynecology and pediatrics and director of the Division of Research in the Department of Obstetrics & Gynecology, is now designing a study to determine how soon adipocyte abnormalities can be detected in pregnancy.

  Tiffany Moore Simas, MD
  Tiffany Moore Simas, MD

The incidence of gestational diabetes, which presents health risks for both mother and baby during and after pregnancy, is on the rise, affecting as many as 14 percent of pregnant women according to the Centers for Disease Control. It is most often diagnosed late in pregnancy, but earlier diagnosis would permit better treatment and management.

Related links on UMassMedNow:
Moore Simas named Joy McCann Professor for Women in Medicine
Invested faculty, inspired by donors, offer thanks for essential support