In Utero Exposure to Maternal Hyperglycemia Increases Childhood Cardiometabolic Risk in Offspring


The objective of this study was to evaluate the effect of maternal hyperglycemia during pregnancy on cardiometabolic risk in offspring during early childhood.


A total of 970 mothers who had joined the Hyperglycemia and Adverse Pregnancy Outcome study were reevaluated, together with their child born during the study period, 7 years after delivery.


Offspring born to mothers diagnosed with gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM), as defined by the World Health Organization 2013 GDM criteria, had higher rates of abnormal glucose tolerance (4.7% vs. 1.7%; P = 0.04), higher rates of overweight or obesity, greater BMI, higher blood pressure (BP), lower oral disposition index, and a trend toward reduced β-cell function compared with those born to mothers without GDM. For each SD increase in maternal fasting, 1-h, and 2-h glucose levels on oral glucose tolerance tests (OGTTs) between 24 and 32 weeks of the index pregnancy, the risk of abnormal glucose tolerance in the offspring showed a corresponding increase (adjusted odds ratio [OR] 1.85–2.00). The associations were independent of BMI before pregnancy, childhood obesity, or being born large for gestational age. The area under the curve for glucose levels during the five-point OGTT increased to a similar extent in boys and girls with each SD increase in maternal 1-h and 2-h plasma glucose on OGTTs during pregnancy. All three maternal glucose levels were also associated with increased adjusted ORs for childhood overweight or obesity and adiposity among girls, but not boys.


Maternal hyperglycemia in pregnancy is independently associated with offsprings’ risk of abnormal glucose tolerance, obesity, and higher BP at 7 years of age. Its effect on childhood adiposity was apparent only in girls, not boys.

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