Risk of congenital heart defects in offspring exposed to maternal diabetes mellitus: an updated systematic review and meta-analysis

Arch Gynecol Obstet. 2019 Dec;300(6):1491-1506. doi: 10.1007/s00404-019-05376-6. Epub 2019 Nov 12.


Purpose: A systematic review and meta-analysis was performed to assess the risk of congenital heart defects (CHDs) and its specific phenotypes associated with maternal diabetes mellitus (DM) including pregestational diabetes mellitus (PGDM) and gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM).

Methods: PubMed, Embase, Medline, Google Scholar, Cochrane Libraries, China National Knowledge Infrastructure, Wanfang Database, Chinese Scientific Journals Fulltext Database and China Biology Medicine disc were searched from the inception dates to 15 December 2018, to identify case-control or cohort studies assessing the association between maternal DM and risk of CHDs. The exposure of interest was maternal DM; the outcomes of interest were CHDs and its specific phenotypes. Either a fixed- or a random-effects model was used to calculate the overall combined risk estimates. Subgroup analyses were performed to explore potential heterogeneity moderators.

Results: Total 52 studies, which involved 259,917 patients with CHDs among 16,929,835 participants, were included for analysis. Overall, mothers with DM compared with those without DM had a significantly higher risk of CHDs in offspring [odds ratios (OR) = 2.71, 95% confidence intervals (CI) 2.28-3.23]. When data were restricted to different types of DM, a significantly increased risk of CHDs was observed among mothers with PGDM (OR = 3.18, 95% CI 2.77-3.65) and GDM (OR = 1.98, 95% CI 1.66-2.36). Our study suggested the risk of CHDs was significantly higher among mothers with PGDM than those with GDM. Additionally, this study suggested maternal DM was significantly associated with most phenotypes of CHDs; of these, double outlet of the right ventricle (OR = 10.89; 95% CI 8.77-13.53), atrioventricular septal defect (OR = 5.74; 95% CI 3.20-10.27) and truncus arteriosus (OR = 5.06; 95% CI 2.65-9.65) were identified as the first three of the most common phenotypes of CHDs associated with maternal DM.

Conclusions: The maternal DM including PGDM and GDM are significantly associated with risk of CHDs and its most phenotypes. The PGDM seems to be more likely to cause CHDs in offspring than GDM. Further studies are needed to clarify the underlying mechanisms.

Keywords: Congenital heart defects; Gestational diabetes mellitus; Maternal diabetes mellitus; Meta-analysis; Phenotypes; Pregestational diabetes mellitus.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Case-Control Studies
  • China
  • Cohort Studies
  • Diabetes Complications*
  • Diabetes, Gestational
  • Female
  • Heart Defects, Congenital / complications
  • Heart Defects, Congenital / epidemiology*
  • Humans
  • Odds Ratio
  • Pregnancy
  • Risk Assessment
  • Risk Factors