Obesity and abnormal glucose tolerance in the offspring of mothers with diabetes

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Abstract

Purpose of review

Type 2 diabetes and obesity during childhood, puberty, and adulthood have become more common. This trend presents a global problem in terms of public health and health economics. Associations between intrauterine exposure to hyperglycemia, obesity, and abnormal glucose tolerance (AGT) in offspring have been reported in populations at high risk of diabetes such as Pima Indians, but these associations have not been established in other groups. In this review, we summarize the evidence on obesity and AGT in the offspring of mothers with diabetes.

Recent findings

Although there are many reports indicating that the incidence of obesity or overweight is higher in the offspring of mothers with gestational diabetes, there is no consensus on whether maternal prepregnancy obesity has a larger impact than intrauterine exposure to hyperglycemia. While the risk of AGT or type 2 diabetes in the offspring of mothers with gestational diabetes is thought to increase after puberty, the incidence of AGT is elevated by the age of 7 years in the offspring of mothers with untreated gestational diabetes. Maternal gestational diabetes is a risk factor for AGT or type 2 diabetes independent of maternal prepregnancy BMI. When the offspring of women who had gestational diabetes and received therapeutic intervention in two randomized controlled studies were followed, the prevalence of obesity and impaired fasting glucose was lower in some 7-year-old girls, but the effect of maternal intervention was limited. The risk of obesity or overweight is higher in the offspring of mothers with type 1 diabetes, even after adjustment for maternal prepregnancy BMI. The risk of type 2 diabetes in such offspring is also higher. Although the offspring of mothers with type 2 diabetes are likely to be at high risk for type 2 diabetes, there are only limited reports supporting this hypothesis.

Summary

Intrauterine exposure to hyperglycemia is associated with obesity and AGT among offspring. The present review suggests that these associations might depend on the type of maternal diabetes, that is, the timing and degree of exposure to hyperglycemia. There are only a small number of studies on the effect of therapeutic interventions for maternal diabetes on metabolism in the offspring.

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