Recent studies have shown that mutations in the glucokinase gene on chromosome 7 can cause an autosomal dominant form of NIDDM with a variable clinical phenotype and onset during childhood. The variable clinical phenotype includes mild fasting hyperglycemia (i.e., a plasma glucose value of > 110 mg/dl, a value that is at least 2–3 SDs above normal), impaired glucose tolerance, gestational diabetes mellitus, as well as overt NIDDM as defined using National Diabetes Data Group or World Health Organization criteria. Because gestational diabetes mellitus was a clinical feature associated with glucokinase mutations, we have screened a group of women with gestational diabetes who also had a first-degree relative with diabetes mellitus for the presence of mutations in this gene. Among 40 subjects, we identified two mutations, suggesting a prevalence of ∼5% in this group. Extrapolating from this result, the prevalence of glucokinase-deficient NIDDM among Americans may be ∼1 in 2500.

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