The impact of gestational diabetes on functional capacity of the infant gut microbiome is modest and transient

Gut Microbes. 2024 Jan-Dec;16(1):2356277. doi: 10.1080/19490976.2024.2356277. Epub 2024 May 26.


Gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM) is a metabolic complication that manifests as hyperglycemia during the later stages of pregnancy. In high resource settings, careful management of GDM limits risk to the pregnancy, and hyperglycemia typically resolves after birth. At the same time, previous studies have revealed that the gut microbiome of infants born to mothers who experienced GDM exhibit reduced diversity and reduction in the abundance of several key taxa, including Lactobacillus. What is not known is what the functional consequences of these changes might be. In this case control study, we applied 16S rRNA sequence surveys and metatranscriptomics to profile the gut microbiome of 30 twelve-month-old infants - 16 from mothers with GDM, 14 from mothers without - to examine the impact of GDM during pregnancy. Relative to the mode of delivery and sex of the infant, maternal GDM status had a limited impact on the structure and function of the developing microbiome. While GDM samples were associated with a decrease in alpha diversity, we observed no effect on beta diversity and no differentially abundant taxa. Further, while the mode of delivery and sex of infant affected the expression of multiple bacterial pathways, much of the impact of GDM status on the function of the infant microbiome appears to be lost by twelve months of age. These data may indicate that, while mode of delivery appears to impact function and diversity for longer than anticipated, GDM may not have persistent effects on the function nor composition of the infant gut microbiome.

Keywords: 16S rRNA sequence analysis; Gestational diabetes mellitus; exclusive breastfeeding status; gut microbiome; metatranscriptomics; mode of delivery; sex.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Bacteria* / classification
  • Bacteria* / genetics
  • Bacteria* / isolation & purification
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Diabetes, Gestational* / microbiology
  • Feces / microbiology
  • Female
  • Gastrointestinal Microbiome*
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Pregnancy
  • RNA, Ribosomal, 16S* / genetics


  • RNA, Ribosomal, 16S

Grants and funding

This work was funded by the Heart & Stroke Foundation of Canada [G-14-0006308] to JH and JP; and the Canadian Institutes for Health Research [MRT-168043] to JP. Computing resources were provided by the SciNet High Performance Computing (HPC) Consortium; SciNet is funded by the Canada Foundation for Innovation under the auspices of Compute Canada, the Government of Ontario, Ontario Research Fund - Research Excellence, and the University of Toronto. We would like to thank to Rebecca Noseworthy for her assistance and feedback on the manuscript.