Maternal glycemia during pregnancy and offspring abdominal adiposity measured by MRI in the neonatal period and preschool years: The Growing Up in Singapore Towards healthy Outcomes (GUSTO) prospective mother-offspring birth cohort study

Am J Clin Nutr. 2020 Jul 1;112(1):39-47. doi: 10.1093/ajcn/nqaa055.


Background: Gestational diabetes is associated with unfavorable body fat distribution in offspring. However, less is known about the effects across the range of maternal gestational glycemia on offspring abdominal adiposity (AA) in infancy and early childhood.

Objectives: This study determined the association between gestational glycemia and offspring AA measured by MRI in the neonatal period and during the preschool years.

Methods: Participants were mother-offspring pairs from the GUSTO (Growing Up in Singapore Towards healthy Outcomes) prospective cohort study. Children who underwent MRI within 2 wk postdelivery (n = 305) and/or at preschool age, 4.5 y (n = 273), and whose mothers had a 2-h 75-g oral-glucose-tolerance test (OGTT) at 26-28 weeks of gestation were included. AA measured by adipose tissue compartment volumes-abdominal superficial (sSAT), deep subcutaneous (dSAT), and internal (IAT) adipose tissue-was quantified from MRI images.

Results: Adjusting for potential confounders including maternal prepregnancy BMI, each 1-mmol/L increase in maternal fasting glucose was associated with higher SD scores for sSAT (0.66; 95% CI: 0.45, 0.86), dSAT (0.65; 95% CI: 0.44, 0.87), and IAT (0.64; 95% CI: 0.42, 0.86) in neonates. Similarly, each 1-mmol/L increase in 2-h OGTT glucose was associated with higher neonatal sSAT (0.11; 95% CI: 0.03, 0.19) and dSAT (0.09; 95% CI: 0.00, 0.17). These associations were stronger in female neonates but only persisted in girls between fasting glucose, and sSAT and dSAT at 4.5 y.

Conclusions: A positive association between maternal glycemia and neonatal AA was observed across the whole range of maternal mid-gestation glucose concentrations. These findings may lend further support to efforts toward optimizing maternal hyperglycemia during pregnancy. The study also provides suggestive evidence on sex differences in the impact of maternal glycemia, which merits further confirmation in other studies.This trial was registered at as NCT01174875.

Keywords: early infancy; maternal glucose; mid-gestation; offspring abdominal adipose tissue compartment; pediatrics.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Abdominal Fat / diagnostic imaging
  • Abdominal Fat / metabolism
  • Adiposity
  • Adult
  • Blood Glucose / metabolism
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Diabetes, Gestational / metabolism*
  • Diabetes, Gestational / physiopathology
  • Female
  • Glucose Tolerance Test
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Obesity, Abdominal / diagnosis
  • Obesity, Abdominal / diagnostic imaging
  • Obesity, Abdominal / metabolism
  • Obesity, Abdominal / physiopathology*
  • Pregnancy
  • Prenatal Exposure Delayed Effects / diagnosis
  • Prenatal Exposure Delayed Effects / diagnostic imaging
  • Prenatal Exposure Delayed Effects / metabolism
  • Prenatal Exposure Delayed Effects / physiopathology*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Singapore
  • Young Adult


  • Blood Glucose

Associated data