Maternal diabetes in pregnancy: early and long-term outcomes on the offspring and the concept of "metabolic memory"

Exp Diabetes Res. 2011;2011:218598. doi: 10.1155/2011/218598. Epub 2011 Nov 21.


The adverse outcomes on the offspring from maternal diabetes in pregnancy are substantially documented. In this paper, we report main knowledge on impacts of maternal diabetes on early and long-term health of the offspring, with specific comments on maternal obesity. The main adverse outcome on progenies from pregnancy complicated with maternal diabetes appears to be macrosomia, as it is commonly known that intrauterine exposure to hyperglycemia increases the risk and programs the offspring to develop diabetes and/or obesity at adulthood. This "fetal programming", due to intrauterine diabetic milieu, is termed as "metabolic memory". In gestational diabetes as well as in macrosomia, the complications include metabolic abnormalities, degraded antioxidant status, disrupted immune system and potential metabolic syndrome in adult offspring. Furthermore, there is evidence that maternal obesity may also increase the risk of obesity and diabetes in offspring. However, women with GDM possibly exhibit greater macrosomia than obese women. Obesity and diabetes in pregnancy have independent and additive effects on obstetric complications, and both require proper management. Management of gestational diabetes mellitus and maternal obesity is essential for maternal and offspring's good health. Increasing physical activity, preventing gestational weight gain, and having some qualitative nutritional habits may be beneficial during both the pregnancy and offspring's future life.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Animals
  • Antioxidants / metabolism
  • Diabetes, Gestational / metabolism
  • Female
  • Fetal Macrosomia / etiology
  • Fetal Macrosomia / immunology
  • Fetal Macrosomia / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Inflammation / etiology
  • Inflammation / metabolism
  • Insulin Resistance
  • Lipid Metabolism
  • Models, Biological
  • Obesity / complications
  • Obesity / metabolism
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Complications / metabolism
  • Pregnancy Outcome
  • Pregnancy in Diabetics / immunology
  • Pregnancy in Diabetics / metabolism*
  • Prenatal Exposure Delayed Effects / etiology
  • Prenatal Exposure Delayed Effects / metabolism


  • Antioxidants