Gestational diabetes predicts the risk of childhood overweight and abdominal circumference independent of maternal obesity

Diabet Med. 2013 Dec;30(12):1449-56. doi: 10.1111/dme.12286. Epub 2013 Aug 19.


Aim: Gestational diabetes mellitus is believed to be a risk factor for childhood overweight/obesity. We aimed to assess whether this association is either a reflection or independent of confounding by maternal BMI.

Methods: Data from 7355 mother-child dyads of the German Perinatal Prevention of Obesity cohort with full anthropometric information on mothers and children, gestational diabetes and confounding factors were obtained at school entry health examination. We calculated crude and adjusted logistic regression models for the association of gestational diabetes and childhood overweight/obesity and abdominal adiposity defined by age- and sex-specific percentiles for BMI and waist circumference.

Results: Among all children (mean age 5.8 years), 8.1% were overweight, 2.6% were obese and 15.5% had abdominal adiposity. The prevalence of overweight (obesity) was 21% (8.2%) in children of mothers with gestational diabetes and 10.4% (2.4%) in children of healthy mothers. Analyses with adjustment for maternal BMI and other potential confounders yielded an odds ratio of 1.81 (95% CI 1.23-2.65) and 2.80 (95% CI 1.58-4.99) for the impact of gestational diabetes on childhood overweight and obesity, respectively. Similar results were obtained for the risk of childhood abdominal adiposity (odds ratio 1.64, 95% CI 1.16-2.33) by maternal gestational diabetes.

Conclusions: The postulated increased risk of overweight and abdominal adiposity in offspring of mothers with gestational diabetes cannot be explained by maternal BMI alone and may be stronger for childhood obesity than for overweight.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age of Onset
  • Birth Weight
  • Body Mass Index
  • Child
  • Child Nutritional Physiological Phenomena
  • Child, Preschool
  • Confounding Factors, Epidemiologic
  • Diabetes, Gestational / epidemiology*
  • Female
  • Germany / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Mothers / statistics & numerical data*
  • Odds Ratio
  • Pediatric Obesity / epidemiology*
  • Pediatric Obesity / etiology
  • Pregnancy
  • Prenatal Exposure Delayed Effects
  • Prevalence
  • Public Health*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • Waist Circumference*