According to a study published in JAMA, untreated gestational diabetes is significantly associated with maternal development of disordered glucose metabolism, but not with overweight or obesity outcomes in their children.

To understand the associations between in utero exposure to gestational diabetes and long-term risk for maternal glucose metabolism and childhood adiposity, researchers followed a cohort of 4697 mothers (mean age, 41.7) and 4832 children for a median duration of 11.4 years.

During the follow-up period 10 to 14 years postpartum, 14.3% of participating mothers met the criteria for gestational diabetes. In patients with gestational diabetes, 52.2% were found to have developed a disorder of glucose metabolism compared with 20.1% of mothers who did not have gestational diabetes (adjusted odds ratio, 3.44). In women with gestational diabetes, 10.7% had type 2 diabetes and 41.5% had prediabetes; comparatively, for participants without gestational diabetes, 1.6% had type 2 diabetes and 18.4% had prediabetes.

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In children whose mothers had gestational diabetes, 39.5% were deemed overweight or obese compared with 28.6% of children whose mothers did not have gestational diabetes. After adjusting for maternal variables, gestational diabetes was not found to be significantly associated with childhood overweight or obesity outcomes. However, it was noted that other childhood adiposity measures might be relevant for interpreting these findings.

The researchers highlighted several study limitations, including that the percentage of individuals who met criteria for gestational diabetes and participated in the study was lower than in all eligible participants.

Despite such limitations, the researchers said their study “demonstrated that untreated gestational diabetes…was associated with a higher risk for a maternal disorder of glucose metabolism 10 to 14 years’ postpartum. The association of gestational diabetes with childhood overweight or obesity was not statistically significant.”

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Lowe WL Jr, Scholtens DM, Lowe LP, et al. Association of gestational diabetes with maternal disorders of glucose metabolism and childhood adiposity [published online September 11, 2018]. JAMA. doi:10.1001/jama.2018.11628