The reported rates of gestational diabetes mellitus are constantly escalating and little is known about long-term complications in the offspring. Evidence from the field of epigenetics strongly advocates the need for research on the neuropsychiatric complications in offspring prenatally exposed to gestational diabetes mellitus.OBJECTIVE:
We sought to assess whether in utero exposure to gestational diabetes mellitus increases the risk of long-term neuropsychiatric morbidity in the offspring.STUDY DESIGN:
A population-based cohort study compared the incidence of hospitalizations due to neuropsychiatric disease between singletons exposed and unexposed to gestational diabetes mellitus. Deliveries occurred in the years 1991 through 2014 in a regional tertiary medical center. Perinatal deaths, multiple gestations, mothers with pregestational diabetes or lack of prenatal care, and children with congenital malformations were excluded from the study. A multivariate generalized estimating equation logistic regression model analysis was used to control for confounders and for maternal clusters.RESULTS:
During the study period 231,271 deliveries met the inclusion criteria; 5.4% of the births were to mothers diagnosed with gestational diabetes mellitus (n = 12,642), of these 4.3% had gestational diabetes type A1 (n = 10,076) and 1.1% had gestational diabetes type A2 (n = 2566). During the follow-up period, a significant linear association was noted between the severity of the gestational diabetes (no gestational diabetes, gestational diabetes mellitus A1, gestational diabetes mellitus A2) and neuropsychiatric disease of the offspring (1.02% vs 1.36% vs 1.68%, respectively, P < .001). A Kaplan-Meier curve demonstrated that children born to women with gestational diabetes mellitus had higher cumulative incidence of neuropsychiatric morbidity. Using a generalized estimating equation multivariable logistic regression model, controlling for time-to-event, maternal age, gestational age at delivery, maternal obesity, maternal preeclampsia and fertility treatments, maternal gestational diabetes mellitus was found to be an independent risk factor for long-term neuropsychiatric disease of the offspring (gestational diabetes mellitus A1 [adjusted odds ratio, 1.83; 95% confidence interval, 1.53–2.19] and gestational diabetes mellitus A2 [adjusted odds ratio, 1.64; 95% confidence interval, 1.18–2.27]). Within the limits of our database, our findings also point to a possible association between in utero exposure to gestational diabetes mellitus and autistic spectrum disorder of the offspring (adjusted odds ratio, 4.44; 95% confidence interval, 1.55–12.69), which was found significant also after controlling for time-to-event, maternal age, gestational age at delivery, and offspring weight at birth.CONCLUSION:
Exposure to maternal gestational diabetes mellitus is an independent risk factor for long-term neuropsychiatric morbidity in the offspring.