Unlocking Genetic Clues to Gestational Diabetes

The largest genetic study of gestational diabetes to date has led to a discovery of nine novel genetic regions linked to this severe and common pregnancy complication.

A new study led by researchers from the University of Helsinki, along with colleagues at the Massachusetts General Hospital and Broad Institute of Harvard and MIT, provides significant breakthroughs in our understanding of the genetics behind gestational diabetes. The disease is a common pregnancy disorder annually affecting more than 16 million pregnancies worldwide, with substantial health implications for both mothers and their children. It is characterized by elevated blood sugar levels in pregnant women who did not have diabetes before becoming pregnant. Despite the fact that gestational diabetes constitutes a major global health problem, there is remarkably little research into its molecular causes. The study now published is the largest genome-wide association study (GWAS) of gestational diabetes conducted to date, including more than 12,000 patients and 131,000 female controls from the Finnish genomics initiative FinnGen.

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