Intensive gestational glycemic management and childhood obesity: a systematic review and meta-analysis

Int J Obes (Lond). 2017 Jul;41(7):999-1004. doi: 10.1038/ijo.2017.65. Epub 2017 Mar 13.


Background and objectives: Hyperglycemia in pregnancy is associated with increased risk of offspring childhood obesity. Treatment reduces macrosomia; however, it is unclear if this effect translates into a reduced risk of childhood obesity. We performed a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials to evaluate the efficacy and safety of intensive glycemic management in pregnancy in preventing childhood obesity.

Methods: We searched MEDLINE, EMBASE, CENTRAL and up to February 2016 and conference abstracts from 2010 to 2015. Two reviewers independently identified randomized controlled trials evaluating intensive glycemic management interventions for hyperglycemia in pregnancy and included four of the 383 citations initially identified. Two reviewers independently extracted study data and evaluated internal validity of the studies using the Cochrane Collaboration's Risk of Bias tool. Data were pooled using random-effects models. Statistical heterogeneity was quantified using the I2 test. The primary outcome was age- and sex-adjusted childhood obesity. Secondary outcomes included childhood weight and waist circumference and maternal hypoglycemia during the trial (safety outcome).

Results: The four eligible trials (n=767 children) similarly used lifestyle and insulin to manage gestational hyperglycemia, but only two measured offspring obesity and waist circumference and could be pooled for these outcomes. We found no association between intensive gestational glucose management and childhood obesity at 7-10 years of age (relative risk 0.89, 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.65 to 1.22; two trials; n=568 children). Waist circumference also did not differ between treatment and control arms (mean difference, -2.68 cm; 95% CI, -8.17 to 2.81 cm; two trials; n=568 children).

Conclusions: Intensive gestational glycemic management is not associated with reduced childhood obesity in offspring, but randomized data is scarce. Long-term follow-up of trials should be prioritized and comprehensive measures of childhood metabolic risk should be considered as outcomes in future trials.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Diabetes, Gestational / prevention & control*
  • Diabetes, Gestational / therapy
  • Female
  • Fetal Macrosomia
  • Humans
  • Hyperglycemia / complications*
  • Hyperglycemia / therapy
  • Hypoglycemic Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Insulin / therapeutic use*
  • Pediatric Obesity / etiology*
  • Pediatric Obesity / therapy
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Complications / prevention & control*
  • Pregnancy Complications / therapy
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Risk Reduction Behavior


  • Hypoglycemic Agents
  • Insulin

Grant support