Fuel metabolism in pregnancy and in gestational diabetes mellitus

Obstet Gynecol Clin North Am. 1996 Mar;23(1):1-10. doi: 10.1016/s0889-8545(05)70241-2.


Fuel metabolism during pregnancy and in gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM) is reviewed with emphasis on carbohydrate and fat metabolism. In early pregnancy, insulin secretion in response to glucose is increased, peripheral insulin sensitivity is normal or increased, glucose tolerance is normal or slightly enhanced. In addition, there is maternal fat accumulation. During late pregnancy, there is increased fetal growth and increased fetal demand for nutrients. Maternal responses to these demands consist of an accelerated switch from carbohydrate to fat utilization that is facilitated by peripheral insulin resistance and by high blood levels of lipolytic hormones. In patients with GDM, insulin resistance is either comparable or greater than in nondiabetic pregnancy whereas insulin secretion appears to be compromised. Important short term consequences of GDM are perinatal complications, whereas long term complications include an increased rate of development of maternal non-insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Carbohydrate Metabolism
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / etiology
  • Diabetes, Gestational / metabolism*
  • Embryonic and Fetal Development
  • Energy Metabolism*
  • Fats / metabolism
  • Female
  • Fetus / metabolism
  • Glucose / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Insulin / metabolism
  • Insulin Resistance
  • Insulin Secretion
  • Lipid Metabolism
  • Pregnancy / metabolism*


  • Fats
  • Insulin
  • Glucose