The Hyperglycemia and Adverse Pregnancy Outcome (HAPO) study of over 23 000 diabetes-free pregnancies has shown that at a population level an unequivocal linear relationship exists between maternal glucose concentrations around the beginning of the third trimester of pregnancy and the risk of their baby being born above the ninetieth centile for weight. With the rising incidence of gestational diabetes (GDM) across the developed world, largely paralleling the increased prevalence of obesity, there has been a sharp increase in the risk of pregnancy complications developing related to the birth of macrosomic babies. The associated additional long-term complications of GDM pregnancies means that in the future there is likely to be a large increase in the incidence of type 2 diabetes and associated conditions in both the mothers and their affected offspring. The present review seeks to highlight recent advances and remaining gaps in knowledge about GDM in terms of its genetics (where some of the recently discovered polymorphic risk factors for type 2 diabetes have also proved to be risk factors for GDM) and its treatment by diet, exercise and drugs.
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