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. Epub 2011 Sep 22.


We systematically reviewed research examining the association between gestational diabetes (GDM) and childhood overweight and obesity. We identified studies from three sources: (1) a PubMed search of articles published between January 1990-January 2011, (2) reference lists of publications from the PubMed search, and (3) reference lists of review articles. We included studies that examined GDM separately from pregestational diabetes and childhood overweight or obesity defined as BMI > 85th or 95th percentile. A total of 12 studies were included in the systematic review. Crude odds ratios for the relationship between GDM and childhood overweight or obesity ranged from 0.7 to 6.3; in 8 studies, the associations were not statistically significant. In only 3 studies were results adjusted for any confounders; in the 2 that adjusted for prepregnancy obesity, the GDM and childhood overweight or obesity associations were attenuated and not statistically significant after adjustment. This paper demonstrates inconsistent evidence of an association between GDM and offspring overweight and obesity due to the methodological limitations of existing studies. Recommendations for future research are presented, which address methodological challenges.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Diabetes, Gestational / physiopathology*
  • Diabetes, Gestational / therapy
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hyperglycemia / physiopathology
  • Male
  • Maternal-Fetal Exchange
  • Obesity / etiology*
  • Overweight / etiology*
  • Pregnancy
  • Prenatal Exposure Delayed Effects
  • Risk Factors