Gestational diabetes is a major health concern, but impacts women in different geographic regions to varying extents.  White Europeans commonly have low levels (~5%) but Middle Eastern, North African, and South Asian women experience much higher levels (20% or more) of gestational diabetes.  Based on existing literature, there may be differences in metabolism and the pathology of gestational diabetes across these populations.  The factors contributing to this discrepancy was the subject of a study reported by Fuller and colleagues in the October 2022 issue of The Journal of Nutrition.

Women in the Born in Bradford study of South Asian (n = 2,671) and white European (n = 2,668) ethnicities provided samples to determine serum metabolites (fasting), and determine their response to an oral glucose tolerance test at 26-28 weeks of gestation.

Seven metabolites were found to be associated with gestational diabetes in both ethnicities but there were six others associated with this state in women of white European ethnicity.  There were distinct metabolic profiles based on ethnicity and BMI associated with gestational diabetes development in healthy weight women.  In women of a South Asian ethnicity, serum albumin was the only metabolite associated with decreased glucose concentrations.  For women of white European ancestry, lactate, histidine, apolipoprotein A1, HDL cholesterol, and HDL2 cholesterol were associated with decreased glucose concentrations, whereas DHA and LDL particle diameters were associated with elevated glucose concentrations.  These observations led the authors to conclude the metabolic risk profile for developing gestational diabetes in white European and South Asian women differs, which suggests ethnic-specific prevention strategies may be more effective.


Harriett Fuller, Mark Iles, J Bernadette Moore, Michael A Zulyniak, Unique Metabolic Profiles Associate with Gestational Diabetes and Ethnicity in Low- and High-Risk Women Living in the UK, The Journal of Nutrition, Volume 152, Issue 10, October 2022, Pages 2186–2197,

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