The genetics of gestational diabetes mellitus: evidence for relationship with type 2 diabetes mellitus

Genet Med. 2008 Apr;10(4):240-50. doi: 10.1097/GIM.0b013e31816b8710.


Gestational diabetes is a major public health problem because of its prevalence, its associated complications during pregnancy, and its increased risk for type 2 diabetes later in life. Insulin resistance is one of many physiological changes occurring during pregnancy, and when insulin resistance is accompanied by pancreatic beta-cell insufficiency, gestational diabetes may develop. Several lines of evidence suggest that gestational diabetes shares a common etiology with type 2 diabetes and support the hypothesis that gestational diabetes serves as a window to reveal a predisposition to type 2 diabetes. Pregnancy is an environmental stressor that may catalyze the progression to a diabetic state in genetically predisposed women; therefore, identification of these women during pregnancy could decrease the occurrence of type 2 diabetes through targeted prevention. This review presents an overview of the genetics of gestational diabetes, focusing on human association studies with candidate genes common to both type 2 diabetes and gestational diabetes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / genetics*
  • Diabetes, Gestational / genetics*
  • Female
  • Genetic Predisposition to Disease / genetics*
  • Glucose / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Insulin / metabolism*
  • Lipid Metabolism / genetics*
  • Mutation / genetics
  • Pregnancy
  • Risk Factors
  • Signal Transduction / genetics*


  • Insulin
  • Glucose