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The relationship between maternal obesity and diabetes during pregnancy on offspring kidney structure and function in humans: a systematic review

  • Y. Q. Lee (a1) (a2), C. E. Collins (a3) (a4), A. Gordon (a5), K. M. Rae (a2) (a6) (a7) (a8) and K. G. Pringle (a1) (a2) (a6)...


Evidence from animal models indicates that exposure to an obesogenic or hyperglycemic intrauterine environment adversely impacts offspring kidney development and renal function. However, evidence from human studies has not been evaluated systematically. Therefore, the aim of this systematic review was to synthesize current research in humans that has examined the relationship between gestational obesity and/or diabetes and offspring kidney structure and function. Systematic electronic database searches were conducted of five relevant databases (CINAHL, Cochrane, EMBASE, MEDLINE and Scopus). Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-analysis guidelines were followed, and articles screened by two independent reviewers generated nine eligible papers for inclusion. Six studies were assessed as being of ‘neutral’ quality, two of ‘negative’ and one ‘positive’ quality. Observational studies suggest that offspring exposed to a hyperglycemic intrauterine environment are more likely to display markers of renal dysfunction and are at higher risk of end-stage renal disease. There was limited and inconsistent evidence for a link between exposure to an obesogenic intrauterine environment and offspring renal outcomes. Offspring renal outcome measures across studies were diverse, with a large variation in offspring age at follow-up, limiting comparability across studies. The collective current body of evidence suggests that intrauterine exposure to maternal obesity and/or diabetes adversely impacts renal programming in offspring, with an increased risk of kidney disease in adulthood. Further high-quality, longitudinal, prospective cohort studies that measure indicators of offspring renal development and function, including fetal kidney volume and albuminuria, at standardized follow-up time points, are warranted.


Corresponding author

Address for correspondence: Dr. K. G. Pringle, Hunter Medical Research Institute, Lot 1 Kookaburra Circuit, New Lambton Heights, NSW 2305, Australia. E-mail:


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