New Research on Diabetes and Pregnancy
New research has discovered a clue as to why babies born to
mothers who have diabetes are more susceptible to certain birth defects.
Previous research has established the fact that even when women with type 1
or type 2 diabetes control their blood sugar around the time of conception,
their babies are still twice as likely to have some type of defect compared to
the general population. However, the new research by a team at Joslin Diabetes
Center has identified a certain enzyme that is key to the molecular mechanism
that increases the risk of neural tube defects in babies, such as spina bifida,
and some heart defects.
The key to this damaging process is an enzyme called AMP kinase (AMPK), the
study reports. It is activated by oxidative stress and was found to signal the
nucleus of the cell in order to block the expression of the Pax3 gene, which is
crucial to the formulation of the neural tube – the precursor to the brain and
spinal cord in the embryo.