Early-Pregnancy Proteinuria in Diabetes Related to Preeclampsia

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To test the hypothesis that the risk of preeclampsia in diabetic mothers is increased with incipient diabetic nephropathy as well as with overt nephropathy.


Pregnancy outcome was studied in 311 women with class B-RF diabetes from two institutions. Using 104 women without chronic hypertension followed at the University of California, San Francisco, we constructed a receiver-operating characteristic curve relating 24-hour urinary total protein before 20 weeks' gestation to the subsequent development of preeclampsia. From the curve, a predictive cutoff level of proteinuria was selected and tested in two validation groups not used to construct the curve: 158 women without chronic hypertension followed at the University of Cincinnati and 49 women with chronic hypertension from both institutions.


The receiver-operating characteristic curve showed an increased risk of preeclampsia with earlypregnancy proteinuria of 190 mg/day or more. In the Cincinnati validation group, the rate of preeclampsia was 7% in women with early-pregnancy proteinuria of less than 190 mg/day, 31% with proteinuria of 190-499 mg/day, and 38% with proteinuria of 500 mg/day or more. In the chronichypertension validation group, the rates were 0, 50, and 58%, respectively. By multiple logistic regression, the increased risk of preeclampsia with proteinuria above 190 mg/day persisted after controlling for the effects of parity, chronic hypertension, retinopathy, and glycemic control.


Diabetic gravidas with early-pregnancy proteinuria of 190-499 mg/day are at increased risk for preeclampsia. The risk is comparable to that in women with overt diabetic nephropathy and is independent of chronic hypertension. We speculate that diabetic women with proteinuria in this range have incipient or subdinical diabetic nephropathy.

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