These two scientific articles (below) illustrate the prevalence of autoimmune gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM) (onset of Type 1 diabetes during pregnancy), and the importance of determining if a woman has non-autoimmune GDM versus autoimmune GDM. In Sardinia, with the second highest rate of Type 1 diabetes in the world after Finland), 39% of women with GDM have autoimmune GDM. Many women with Type 1/LADA on TuDiabetes started with autoimmune GDM, and it is certainly something to look out for and be aware of.
From Nutrition, Metabolism, & Cardiovascular Diseases 2009
“Diabetes related autoimmunity in gestational diabetes mellitus: is it important?”
Some GDM women show autoantibody positivity during and after pregnancy and pancreatic autoantibodies can appear for the first time in some patients after delivery. Autoantibody positivity is often accompanied by a high frequency of DR3 and DR4 alleles, which are classically related to the development of type 1 diabetes and, although not all studies agree on this point, by an immunological imbalance expressed by the behaviour of the lymphocyte subpopulation, which can be seen as diabetic anomalies overlapping with the immunological changes that occur during pregnancy. It is worth emphasizing that such patients may develop classical type 1 diabetes during and/or after their pregnancy or they may evolve, often some years after their pregnancy, into cases of latent autoimmune diabetes of adulthood (LADA). Autoimmune GDM accounts for a relatively small number of cases (about 10% of all GDM) but the risk of these women developing type 1 diabetes or LADA is very high, so these patients must be identified in order to prevent the severe maternal and fetal complications of type 1 diabetes developing in pregnancy, or its acute onset afterwards. Since women with autoimmune GDM must be considered at high risk of developing type 1 diabetes in any of its clinical forms, these women should be regarded as future candidates for the immunomodulatory strategies used in type 1 diabetes.
From Reproductive Biology & Endocrinology 2008
“Autoimmunity in gestational diabetes mellitus in Sardinia: a preliminary case-control report.”
BACKGROUND: We previously reported a high prevalence (22.3%) of gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM) in a large group of Sardinian women, in contrast with the prevalence of Type 2 diabetes. Sardinia has an unusual distribution of haplotypes and genotypes, with the highest population frequency of HLA DR3 in the world, and after Finland, the highest prevalence of Type 1 diabetes and Autoimmune-related Diseases. In this study we preliminarily tested the prevalence of serological markers of Type 1 diabetes in a group of Sardinian GDM patients. METHODS: We determined glutamic decarboxylase antibodies (anti-GAD65), protein tyrosine phosphatase ICA 512 (IA2) antibodies (anti-IA2), and IAA in 62 GDM patients, and in 56 controls with matching age, gestational age and parity. RESULTS: We found a high prevalence and very unusual distribution of antibodies in GDM patients (38.8%), the anti-IA2 being the most frequent antibody. Out of all our GDM patients, 38.8% (24 of 62) were positive for at least one antibody. Anti-IA2 was present in 29.0 % (18 out of 62) vs. 7.1% (4 out of 56) in the controls (P < 0.001). IAA was present in 14.5% (9 out of 62) of our GDM patients, and absent in the control subjects (P < 0.001). Anti-GAD65 was also present in GDM patients, with a prevalence of 3.2% (2 out of 62) while it was absent in the control group (P = NS). Pre-gestational weight was significantly lower (57.78 +/- 9.8 vs 65.9 +/- 17.3 P = 0.04) in auto-antibodies- positive GDM patients. CONCLUSION: These results are in contrast with the very low prevalence of all antibodies reported in Italy. If confirmed, they could indicate that a large proportion of GDM patients in Sardinia have an autoimmune origin, in accordance with the high prevalence of Type 1 diabetes.