Purpose of review: To review recently published studies examining the role of prepregnancy obesity in the relationship between gestational diabetes mellitus and childhood obesity.
Recent findings: Seven epidemiologic studies published from January 2011 to February 2012 differentiate between preexisting diabetes mellitus and gestational diabetes mellitus, and six of them examine the role of maternal obesity. In studies that account for maternal obesity as a covariate, the association between gestational diabetes mellitus and childhood obesity is attenuated significantly after adjustment for prepregnancy BMI. In the one study that does not adjust for maternal obesity, maternal glucose level during pregnancy is associated with greater offspring adiposity, independent of the child's diet and lifestyle.
Summary: This review shows a positive association between maternal gestational diabetes mellitus and offspring overweight and obesity that is attenuated significantly after adjustment for prepregnancy BMI. The relationship between maternal gestational diabetes mellitus and offspring overweight and obesity could reflect fetal programming, shared genes and/or shared environments, such as postnatal diet and physical activity. Maternal gestational hyperglycemia and subsequent fetal hyperinsulinemia may predispose offspring to increased adiposity, impaired glucose tolerance, hyperinsulinemia, and insulin resistance. Because maternal obesity is a more prevalent condition than gestational diabetes mellitus and strongly associated with offspring obesity, effective interventions addressing prepregnancy obesity need to be further explored as they may have a greater public health impact on childhood overweight and obesity than those targeting women with gestational diabetes mellitus.