Gestational diabetes and childhood asthma in a racially diverse US pregnancy cohort

Pediatr Allergy Immunol. 2021 Aug;32(6):1190-1196. doi: 10.1111/pai.13523. Epub 2021 May 7.


Background: Childhood asthma is a common chronic disease that likely has prenatal origins. Gestational diabetes alters maternal physiology and may influence fetal risk for childhood-onset disease. However, the association between gestational diabetes and child asthma is not well characterized.

Objective: To investigate the association between gestational diabetes and wheeze/asthma at approximately 4 years of age in a racially diverse US cohort.

Methods: We studied mother-child dyads enrolled prenatally in the Conditions Affecting Neurocognitive Development and Learning in Early Childhood study. Gestational diabetes was determined by medical chart review. At approximately 4 years of age, we assessed child respiratory outcomes including parent report of physician-diagnosed asthma (ever), current wheeze (symptoms within the past 12 months), and current asthma (physician diagnosis and/or medication or symptoms within the past 12 months). We used the modified Poisson regression to assess associations between gestational diabetes and child respiratory outcomes, adjusting for maternal age, race, prenatal smoking, pre-pregnancy body mass index, parity, asthma history, socioeconomic status, and infant sex.

Results: Among 1107 women, 66% were African American/Black. Six percent (n = 62) had gestational diabetes documented during pregnancy. Gestational diabetes was associated with increased risk of physician-diagnosed asthma (adjusted risk ratio (RR) [95% Confidence Interval]: 2.13 [1.35, 3.38]; prevalence: 14%), current wheeze (RR: 1.85 [1.23, 2.78]; prevalence: 19%), and current asthma (RR: 2.01 [1.30, 3.10]; prevalence: 16%).

Conclusions: Gestational diabetes was associated with increased risk of asthma and wheeze outcomes. Additional studies are needed to elucidate modifiable pathways underlying this association.

Keywords: asthma; diabetes; gestational; pediatrics; pregnancy complications; prenatal exposure-delayed effects.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Asthma* / epidemiology
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cohort Studies
  • Diabetes, Gestational* / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Pregnancy
  • Prenatal Exposure Delayed Effects* / epidemiology
  • Respiratory Sounds