Secondary Logo

Journal Logo

Updates in Long-term Maternal and Fetal Adverse Effects of Gestational Diabetes Mellitus

Shou, Chong1; Wei, Yu-Mei2; Wang, Chen2; Yang, Hui-Xia2,*

Section Editor(s): Guo, Chun-Ying; Pan, Yang

doi: 10.1097/FM9.0000000000000019
Review
Open

Gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM) is associated with long-term maternal and fetal adverse outcomes. Recent evidences suggest GDM increases long-term maternal cardiovascular disease, chronic kidney disease, and cancer risks. Maternal hyperglycemia is associated with offspring obesity, overweight, insulin resistance, and neurocognitive development. It remains unclear whether treating mild GDM would reduce long-term maternal and fetal adverse effects.

1Department of Medicine, Melrose Wakefield Hospital, Melrose 02176, MA, USA

2Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Peking University First Hospital, Beijing 100034, China.

Corresponding author: Prof. Hui-Xia Yang, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Peking University First Hospital, Beijing 100034, China. E-mail: yanghuixia@bjmu.edu.cn

Received March 18, 2019

Online date: October 15, 2019

This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-Non Commercial-No Derivatives License 4.0 (CCBY-NC-ND), where it is permissible to download and share the work provided it is properly cited. The work cannot be changed in any way or used commercially without permission from the journal. http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0

Back to Top | Article Outline

Introduction

Overt diabetes mellitus during pregnancy is associated with significantly increased risks of adverse perinatal outcomes. The Hyperglycemia and Adverse Pregnancy Outcome (HAPO) study in 2008 showed that hyperglycemia in pregnancy, less severe than overt diabetes, is independently associated with increased risk of adverse maternal and neonatal outcomes.1 HAPO was a blinded observational study in which pregnant women and their clinical caregivers were not made aware of their glucose status. Thus, child outcomes were not confounded by treatment of maternal hyperglycemia. Second, the large number and racial/ethnic diversity of participants included in the HAPO make the findings broadly applicable. This study led to new diagnostic criteria for gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM) proposed by the International Association of the Diabetes and Pregnancy Study Groups.2

The Ministry of Health of China accepted the International Association of the Diabetes and Pregnancy Study Groups criteria and published the uniform diagnostic criteria for gestational diabetes on July 1, 2011.3 The criteria quickly gained acceptance throughout China. In a 2013 cohort study of 17,186 pregnant women from 13 hospitals throughout China that applied these criteria, the incidence of gestational diabetes was 17.5%.4

The aim of this article is to summarize recent updates about long-term adverse effects to GDM mothers and children.

Back to Top | Article Outline

Updates in long-term maternal adverse effects

GDM is well-known to be associated with increased future maternal risk of type 2 diabetes mellitus. A meta-analysis of 675,455 women with up to 28 years of follow-up showed that women with GDM have a more than seven-fold increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes.5

In recent years, more studies have shown that there are other long-term medical complications associated with GDM.

Back to Top | Article Outline

Cardiovascular disease

Cardiovascular disease (CVD), including coronary artery disease and stroke, is the leading cause of death in women.6 In 2006, Carr et al.7 first demonstrated the relationship between GDM and future maternal CVD risk. They did a cross-sectional study of 994 women with a family history of type 2 diabetes (332 with history of GDM and 663 without history of GDM), and found those with prior GDM were even more likely to not only have CVD risk factors, including metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes, but also to have experienced CVD events, which occurred at a younger age.

In 2008, Shah et al.8 from Canada conducted a population-based retrospective cohort with 8191 women with GDM and 81,262 women without GDM. At follow up at 11.5 years, they found young women with GDM have a substantially increased risk for CVD. In 2009, the same group9 further stratified the population into 3 cohorts: women with gestational diabetes (13,888); women with an abnormal 50g glucose challenge test but a normal OGTT (71,831); and women with a normal 50g glucose challenge test (349,977). They found that both women with GDM and women with an abnormal 50g glucose challenge test had a higher risk of CVD over 12.3 years of median follow-up.

Different research group around the world in the following years showed similar results. In 2013, Kessous et al.,10 a group from Israel, did a population-based study of 4928 women with GDM and they found at follow-up period of more than 10 years, women with GDM had higher rates of cardiovascular morbidity. In 2014, Fadl et al.,11 from Sweden, conducted a population-based matched case-control study. They found the adjusted odds ratios for the association of CVD with GDM are 1.51. In 2017, Shostrom et al.12 from US, had a population-based study of 8127 women. It showed women with a previous history of GDM have significantly higher risk for developing CVD and lower serum level of HDL cholesterol. Tobias et al.13 from US, by a large Prospective Cohort of nearly 90,000 US women older than 26 years, women with a history of GDM had 43% greater risk of CVD. In 2018, Daly et al.,14 a group from UK, by studying a retrospective cohort with 9118 women diagnosed with GDM and 37,281 control women, and found women diagnosed with GDM were at very high risk of developing type 2 diabetes and had a significantly increased incidence of hypertension and ischemic heart disease. McKenzie-Sampson et al.15 from Canada, with a retrospective cohort study of 67,356 women with gestational diabetes and 1,003,311 without gestational diabetes for a maximum of 25.2 years. It showed women with GDM had a higher cumulative incidence of hospitalization for CVD 25 years after delivery (190.8 per 1000 women) compared with no gestational diabetes (117.8 per 1000 women).

To summarize above studies, there are two systematic reviews in the past year. In 2018, Jing et al.16 retrieved seven cohort studies with 3,417,020 pregnant women including 14,146 incident CVD events. In the pooled analysis, women with prior GDM were at 1.74-fold risk of CVD of those without. In 2019, Caroline et al. did a pooled analysis of nine studies from 5,390,591 women (101,424 cardiovascular events). It showed that pregnant women with GDM have a twofold higher risk of cardiovascular events postpartum compared with their peers.17 American Heart Association includes history of GDM in their classification of cardiovascular risk factors in women.18

Back to Top | Article Outline

Chronic kidney disease

Chronic kidney disease is a common condition, with an estimated global prevalence of 13.4%.19 Early evidences showed women with GDM have a higher prevalence of microalbuminuria than women without any history of diabetes.20,21 Emerging evidence reported an association between GDM history and subsequent renal morbidity. Beharier et al. conducted a population-based study and found women with GDM had higher rates of total renal morbidity.22 In 2018, Rawal et al. did a long-term follow-up of women with GDM within the Danish National Birth Cohort and the Nurses’ Health Study II. They found women who develop GDM in pregnancy were more likely to show increased eGFR levels 9–16 years postpartum, which could indicate early stages of glomerular hyperfiltration and renal damage.23

Back to Top | Article Outline

Cancer

There is some controversy about the relationship between gestational diabetes and breast cancer. A systemic review in 2014 included nine articles documented, five cohort, and 4 case-control studies containing 10,630 cancer cases and 14,608 women with a history of GDM and the pooled odds ratio between GDM and breast cancer risk was 1.01.24 Another systemic review in 2017 included five case-control studies and six cohort studies and it did not find significant associations between GDM and breast cancer.25

In 2019, a cohort study in Taiwan shows women with GDM had increased risk of cancers, including cancers of nasopharynx, kidney, lung, bronchus, breast, and thyroid gland.26

Back to Top | Article Outline

Updates in long-term fetal adverse effects

Obesity, overweight, and insulin resistance

It is known that intrauterine exposure to maternal pre-existing diabetes or GDM is associated with a higher risk for offspring abnormal glucose metabolism and adiposity.27 Early evidences demonstrated the association of maternal glucose levels during pregnancy with abnormal glucose metabolism and adiposity in childhood.28–30

However, whether GDM, independent of maternal body mass index (BMI), is associated with future metabolic disease and obesity in the offspring was controversial, as much of the earlier results did not control for maternal BMI.

Two systematic reviews have shown the association between maternal diabetes and childhood obesity.31,32 In both reviews, maternal hyperglycemia was shown to be a risk factor for obesity or overweight in offspring, but the association was attenuated or no longer apparent after adjusting for maternal BMI. Another systematic review came out in 2018 included twenty observational studies involving a total of 26,509 children.33 The result shows offspring of GDM mother had higher BMI in childhood, however, after adjustment for maternal pre-pregnancy BMI, this association disappeared.

These are some limitations in those studies. First, many studies focused on women with a high prevalence of diabetes, making it unclear whether mild hyperglycemia in pregnancy could have long-term effects on offspring. Second, maternal treatment during pregnancy has confounded studies on offspring risk of hyperglycemia.

The HAPO follow-up study (FUS) offered a unique opportunity to examine associations of maternal hyperglycemia during pregnancy, less than overt diabetes and not confounded by maternal treatment, with childhood glucose metabolism. A total of 4834 children completed all or part of the HAPO FUS visit. Four study results came from HAPO FUS since last year.

Regarding offspring overweight and obesity, Lowe et al.34 in 2018 initially found among children of mothers with GDM versus those without it, the difference in childhood overweight or obesity was not statistically significant. However, in 2019 article, they are able to find the positive association between maternal glucose levels during pregnancy and measures of child adiposity in HAPO FUS children (aged 10–14 years) and it is independent of maternal BMI.35

In terms of offspring insulin resistance, Lowe et al.36 demonstrated that offspring of mothers with untreated GDM are at high risk for impaired glucose tolerance 10–14 years postpartum. Scholtens et al.37 further demonstrated that the relationship between maternal glucose levels during pregnancy and child glucose levels and related outcomes was generally linear across the spectrum of glucose levels, including levels below those diagnostic of GDM.

Back to Top | Article Outline

Neurocognitive development

The development of GDM coincides with a period of rapid fetal brain development, and recent studies have shown GDM has long-term adverse effects to offspring neurocognitive development.

Nomura et al.38 revealed maternal GDM is associated with an increased risk for attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder at age 6 years. Tine et al.39 showed offspring of women with GDM had a lower global cognitive score. Cai et al.40 in 2018 found gestational diabetes and maternal blood glucose levels are associated with offspring neuronal activity during an attentional task at both 6 and 18 months. Such electrophysiological differences are likely functionally important, having been previously linked to attention problems later in life.

A systematic review and meta-analysis includes 12 studies involving 6140 infants up to 14 years. This meta-analysis found the association between maternal diabetes and deleterious effects on mental/psychomotor development and overall intellectual function in the offspring must be taken with caution, a direct causal influence of intrauterine hyperglycemia remains uncertain.41 A recent meta-analysis in 2019 includes a total of nine studies with 7,218,903 participants. The result shows combining of the cohort studies demonstrated that offspring of diabetic mothers were at higher risk of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder.42

Back to Top | Article Outline

Effects of mild GDM treatment on long-term maternal and fetal outcome

After decades of uncertainty, results from randomized treatment trials confirm that treatment of mild GDM is associated with immediate short-term maternal and fetal benefits.43,44 There is, however, insufficient evidence regarding whether treatment confers long-term maternal and fetal metabolic benefit.

In terms of maternal long-term effect, a recent article in 2019 included 457 women with mild GDM (243 treated; 214 untreated) and evaluated at a median 7 years after their index pregnancy. Result showed there was no statistical significance in frequency of diabetes, metabolic syndrome, and insulin resistance.45

In terms of fetal long-term outcome, one study showed although treatment of GDM substantially reduced macrosomia at birth, it did not result in a change in BMI at age 4–5 years old.46 In a FUS of the offspring of women participating in a randomized controlled trial for the treatment of mild GDM, there is no difference in the overall frequency of obesity or metabolic dysfunction at ages 5–10 years according to whether treatment was undertaken.47

In summary, treating mild GDM with dietary intervention and insulin when necessary is effective in reducing short-term maternal and fetal risks. Whether treatment of mild GDM is associated with future metabolic disease and obesity in the mother and her offspring remains unknown, with the data at present suggesting no such association at least in the first decade since delivery.

Back to Top | Article Outline

Conclusions

There are increasing new evidences demonstrating the relationship between GDM and long-term maternal and fetal adverse outcomes. This review summarized long-term maternal effects including CVD, chronic kidney disease, and cancer, as well as long-term fetal adverse such as obesity, overweight, insulin resistance, and neurocognitive development. Whether treatment of mild GDM could benefit the women and offspring in long-term remains unclear. Future clinical trials are needed to address the question.

Back to Top | Article Outline

Funding

None.

Back to Top | Article Outline

Conflicts of Interest

None.

Back to Top | Article Outline

References

[1]. Metzger BE, Lowe LP, Dyer AR, et al Hyperglycemia and adverse pregnancy outcomes. N Engl J Med 2008;358(19):1991–2002. doi: 10.1056/NEJMoa0707943.
[2]. Metzger BE, Gabbe SG, Persson B, et al International association of diabetes and pregnancy study groups recommendations on the diagnosis and classification of hyperglycemia in pregnancy. Diabetes Care 2010;33(3):676–682. doi: 10.2337/dc09-1848.
[3]. Yan J, Yang H. Gestational diabetes in China: challenges and coping strategies. Lancet Diabetes Endocrinol 2014;2(12):930–931. doi: 10.1016/S2213-8587(14)70154-8.
[4]. Zhu WW, Yang HX, Wei YM, et al Evaluation of the value of fasting plasma glucose in the first prenatal visit to diagnose gestational diabetes mellitus in china. Diabetes Care 2013;36(3):586–590. doi: 10.2337/dc12-1157.
[5]. Bellamy L, Casas JP, Hingorani AD, et al Type 2 diabetes mellitus after gestational diabetes: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Lancet 2009;373(9677):1773–1779. doi: 10.1016/S0140 6736(09)60731-5.
[6]. Mozaffarian D, Benjamin EJ, Go AS, et al Heart disease and stroke statistics–2015 update: a report from the American Heart Association. Circulation 2015;131:e29–e322. doi: 10.1161/CIR.0000000000000219.
[7]. Carr DB, Utzschneider KM, Hull RL, et al Gestational diabetes mellitus increases the risk of cardiovascular disease in women with a family history of type 2 diabetes. Diabetes Care 2006;29(9):2078–2083.
[8]. Shah BR, Retnakaran R, Booth GL. Increased risk of cardiovascular disease in young women following gestational diabetes. Diabetes Care 2008;31(8):1668–1669. doi: 10.2337/dc08-0706.
[9]. Retnakaran R, Shah BR. Mild glucose intolerance in pregnancy and risk of cardiovascular disease in young women: population-based cohort study. CMAJ 2009;181(6–7):371–376. doi: 10.1503/cmaj.090569.
[10]. Kessous R, Shoham-Vardi I, Pariente G, et al An association between gestational diabetes mellitus and long-term maternal cardiovascular morbidity. Heart 2013;99(15):1118–1121. doi: 10.1136/heartjnl-2013-303945.
[11]. Fadl H, Magnuson A, Östlund I, et al Gestational diabetes mellitus and later cardiovascular disease: a Swedish population based case-control study. BJOG 2014;121(12):1530–1536. doi: 10.1111/1471-0528.12754.
[12]. Shostrom DCV, Sun Y, Oleson JJ, et al History of gestational diabetes mellitus in relation to cardiovascular disease and cardiovascular risk factors in US women. Front Endocrinol 2017;8:144. doi: 10.3389/fendo.2017.00144.
[13]. Tobias DK, Stuart JJ, Li S, et al Association of history of gestational diabetes with long-term cardiovascular disease risk in a large prospective cohort of US women. JAMA Intern Med 2017;177(12):1735–1742. doi: 10.1001/jamainternmed.2017.2790.
[14]. Daly B, Toulis KA, Thomas N, et al Increased risk of ischemic heart disease, hypertension, and type 2 diabetes in women with previous gestational diabetes mellitus, a target group in general practice for preventive interventions: a population-based cohort study. PLoS Med 2018;15(1):e1002488. doi: 10.1371/journal.pmed.1002488.
[15]. McKenzie-Sampson S, Paradis G, Healy-Profitós J, et al Gestational diabetes and risk of cardiovascular disease up to 25 years after pregnancy: a retrospective cohort study. Acta Diabetol 2018;55(4):315–322. doi: 10.1007/s00592-017-1099-2.
[16]. Li J, Song C, Li C, et al Increased risk of cardiovascular disease in women with prior gestational diabetes: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Diabetes Res Clin Pract 2018;140:324–338. doi: 10.1016/j.diabres.2018.03.054.
[17]. Kramer CK, Campbell S, Retnakaran R. Gestational diabetes and the risk of cardiovascular disease in women: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Diabetologia 2019;62(6):905–914. doi: 10.1007/s00125-019-4840-2.
[18]. Mosca L, Benjamin EJ, Berra K, et al Effectiveness-based guidelines for the prevention of cardiovascular disease in women–2011 update: a guideline from the American heart association. Circulation 2011;123(11):1243–1262. doi: 10.1161/CIR.0b013e31820faaf8.
[19]. Hill NR, Fatoba ST, Oke JL, et al Global prevalence of chronic kidney disease, a systematic review and meta-analysis. PLoS One 2016;11(7):e0158765. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0158765.
[20]. Friedman S, Rabinerson D, Bar J, et al Microalbuminuria following gestational diabetes. Acta Obstet Gynecol Scand 1995;74:356–360.
[21]. Bomback AS, Rekhtman Y, Whaley-Connell AT, et al Gestational diabetes mellitus alone in the absence of subsequent diabetes is associated with microalbuminuria: results from the Kidney Early Evaluation Program (KEEP). Diabetes Care 2010;33:2586–2591. doi: 10.2337/dc10-1095.
[22]. Beharier O, Shoham-Vardi I, Pariente G, et al Gestational diabetes mellitus is a significant risk factor for long-term maternal renal disease. J Clin Endocrinol Metab 2015;100(4):1412–1416. doi: 10.1210/jc.2014-4474.
[23]. Rawal S, Olsen SF, Grunnet LG, et al Gestational diabetes mellitus and renal function: a prospective study with 9- to 16-year follow-up after pregnancy. Diabetes Care 2018;41(7):1378–1384. doi: 10.2337/dc17-2629.
[24]. Tong GX, Cheng J, Chai J, et al Association between gestational diabetes mellitus and subsequent risk of cancer: a systematic review of epidemiological studies. Asian Pac J Cancer Prev 2014;15(10):4265–4269.
[25]. Xie C, Wang W, Li X, et al Gestational diabetes mellitus and maternal breast cancer risk: a meta-analysis of the literature. J Matern Fetal Neonatal Med 2017;32(6):1–11. doi: 10.1080/14767058.2017.1397117.
[26]. Peng YS, Lin JR, Cheng BH, et al Incidence and relative risk for developing cancers in women with gestational diabetes mellitus: a nationwide cohort study in Taiwan. BMJ Open 2019;9(2):e024583. doi: 10.1136/bmjopen-2018-024583.
[27]. Metzger BE. Long-term outcomes in mothers diagnosed with gestational diabetes mellitus and their offspring. Clin Obstet Gynecol 2007;50(4):972–979.
[28]. Pettitt DJ, Aleck KA, Baird HR, et al Congenital susceptibility to NIDDM. Role of intrauterine environment. Diabetes 1988;37(5):622–628.
[29]. Silverman BL, Metzger BE, Cho NH, et al Impaired glucose tolerance in adolescent offspring of diabetic mothers. Relationship to fetal hyperinsulinism. Diabetes Care 1995;18(5):611–617.
[30]. Landon MB, Rice MM, Varner MW, et al Mild gestational diabetes mellitus and long-term child health. Diabetes Care 2015;38:445–452. doi: 10.2337/dc14-2159.
[31]. Kim SY, England JL, Sharma JA, et al Gestational diabetes mellitus and risk of childhood overweight and obesity in offspring: a systematic review. Exp Diabetes Res 2011;2011:541308. doi: 10.1155/2011/541308.
[32]. Philipps LH, Santhakumaran S, Gale C, et al The diabetic pregnancy and offspring BMI in childhood: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Diabetologia 2011;54(8):1957–1966. doi: 10.1007/s00125-011-2180-y.
[33]. Kawasaki M, Arata N, Miyazaki C, et al Obesity and abnormal glucose tolerance in offspring of diabetic mothers: a systematic review and meta-analysis. PLoS One 2018;13(1): doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0190676.
[34]. Lowe WL Jr, Scholtens DM, Lowe LP, et al Association of gestational diabetes with maternal disorders of glucose metabolism and childhood adiposity. JAMA 2018;320(10):1005–1016. doi: 10.1001/jama.2018.11628.
[35]. Lowe WL Jr, Lowe LP, Kuang A, et al Maternal glucose levels during pregnancy and childhood adiposity in the hyperglycemia and adverse pregnancy outcome follow-up study. Diabetologia 2019;62(4):598–610. doi: 10.1007/s00125-018-4809-6.
[36]. Lowe WL Jr, Scholtens DM, Kuang A, et al Hyperglycemia and adverse pregnancy outcome follow-up study (HAPO FUS): maternal gestational diabetes mellitus and childhood glucose metabolism. Diabetes Care 2019;42(3):372–380. doi: 10.2337/dc18-1646.
[37]. Scholtens DM, Kuang A, Lowe LP, et al Hyperglycemia and adverse pregnancy outcome follow-up study (HAPO FUS): maternal glycemia and childhood glucose metabolism. Diabetes Care 2019;42(3):381–392. doi: 10.2337/dc18-2021.
[38]. Nomura Y, Marks DJ, Grossman B, et al Exposure to gestational diabetes mellitus and low socioeconomic status: effects on neurocognitive development and risk of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder in offspring. Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med 2012;166(4):337–343. doi: 10.1001/archpediatrics.2011.784.
[39]. Clausen TD, Mortensen EL, Schmidt L. Cognitive function in adult offspring of women with gestational diabetes–the role of glucose and other factors. PLoS One 2013;8(6):e67107. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0067107.
[40]. Cai S, Qiu A, Broekman BF, et al The influence of gestational diabetes on neurodevelopment of children in the first two years of life: a prospective study. PLoS One 2016;11(9):e0162113. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0162113.
[41]. Camprubi Robles M, Campoy C, Garcia Fernandez L, et al Maternal diabetes and cognitive performance in the offspring: a systematic review and meta-analysis. PLoS One 2015;10(11):e0142583. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0142583.
[42]. Zhao L, Li X, Liu G, et al The association of maternal diabetes with attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder in offspring: a meta-analysis. Neuropsychiatr Dis Treat 2019;15:675–684. doi: 10.2147/NDT.S189200.
[43]. Crowther CA, Hiller JE, Moss JR, et al Effect of treatment of gestational diabetes mellitus on pregnancy outcomes. N Engl J Med 2005;352(24):2477–2486.
[44]. Landon MB, Spong CY, Thom E, et al A multicenter, randomized trial of treatment for mild gestational diabetes. N Engl J Med 2009;361(14):1339–1348. doi: 10.1056/NEJMoa0902430.
[45]. Casey BM, Rice MM, Landon MB, et al Effect of treatment of mild gestational diabetes on long-term maternal outcomes. Am J Perinatol 2019;doi: 10.1055/s-0039-1681058.
[46]. Gillman MW, Oakey H, Baghurst PA, et al Effect of treatment of gestational diabetes mellitus on obesity in the next generation. Diabetes Care 2010;33(5):964–968. doi: 10.2337/dc09-1810.
[47]. Landon MB, Rice MM, Varner MW, et al Mild gestational diabetes mellitus and long-term child health. Diabetes Care 2015;38(3):445–452. doi: 10.2337/dc14-2159.
Keywords:

Gestational diabetes mellitus; Long-term maternal and fetal outcome; Maternal cardiovascular disease

© 2019 by Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.