Background: Animal data suggest sexually dimorphic programming of obesity in response to altered intrauterine environment, but the longitudinal impact of gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM) on sex-specific risk of offspring obesity in humans is unclear.
Methods: We conducted a prospective analysis of 15 009 US individuals (7946 female and 7063 male) from the Growing-Up Today Study, who were followed from 1996 (ages 9-14 years) through 2010. Height and weight from validated questionnaires were used to derive body mass index (BMI) at different ages. Obesity during childhood (< 18 years) and adulthood (≥ 18 years) were defined using the International Obesity Task Force and the World Health Organization criteria. GDM exposure was identified through self-reported questionnaires from mothers. Relative risks were estimated using multivariable log-binomial regression models with generalized estimating equations accounting for clustering within the same family.
Results: Male offspring born from pregnancies complicated by GDM had higher BMI compared with non-GDM offspring and had increased risk of obesity; the adjusted relative risk [RR, 95% confidence interval (CI)] was 1.47 (1.11-1.95) for all age groups, 1.59 (1.05-2.41) for late childhood, 1.48 (1.06-2.06) for adolescence and 1.39 (1.00-1.94) for early adulthood. No significant association between obesity and maternal GDM was observed among female participants (RR = 0.97, 95% CI: 0.71-1.33).
Conclusions: The association of GDM with offspring obesity from late childhood through early adulthood may differ by sex; a significant association was observed among male but not female offspring.
Keywords: Diabetes; gestational; obesity; paediatric obesity.
Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the International Epidemiological Association 2017. This work is written by US Government employees and is in the public domain in the United States.