Context: In animal studies, exposure to intrauterine hyperglycemia increases the risk of cardiovascular disease through only partly understood epigenetic mechanisms. Human long-term follow-up studies on the same topic are few.
Objective: The aim was to study the risk of overweight and the metabolic syndrome in adult offspring of women with diet-treated gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM) or type 1 diabetes, and additionally to study associations between estimates of maternal hyperglycemia and outcome in the offspring.
Design and setting: We conducted a follow-up study of 1066 primarily Caucasian women aged 18-27 yr in the Center for Pregnant Women with Diabetes, Rigshospitalet, Copenhagen, Denmark.
Participants: Offspring of women with diet-treated GDM (n = 168) and an unexposed reference group (n = 141) participated, as well as offspring of women with type 1 diabetes (n = 160) and offspring from the background population representing an unexposed reference group (n = 128). The follow-up rate was 56% (597 of 1066).
Main outcome measures: Women with body mass index of at least 25 kg/m(2) were considered overweight. The metabolic syndrome was determined by the International Diabetes Federation 2006 criteria.
Results: The risk of overweight was doubled in offspring of women with diet-treated GDM or type 1 diabetes compared with offspring from the background population, whereas the risk of the metabolic syndrome was 4- and 2.5-fold increased, respectively. Offspring risk of the metabolic syndrome increased significantly with increasing maternal fasting blood glucose as well as 2-h blood glucose (during oral glucose tolerance test).
Conclusions: Adult offspring of women with diet-treated GDM or type 1 diabetes are risk groups for overweight and the metabolic syndrome. Intrauterine hyperglycemia may in addition to genetics and other factors contribute to the pathogenesis of overweight and the metabolic syndrome.