Maternal and Child Health Journal

, Volume 16, Issue 1, pp 125-132

First online:

Gestational Diabetes and Subsequent Growth Patterns of Offspring: The National Collaborative Perinatal Project

  • Kesha Baptiste-RobertsAffiliated withSchool of Nursing, Penn State UniversityDepartment of Public Health Sciences, Penn State University College of Medicine Email author 
  • , Wanda K. NicholsonAffiliated withDepartment of Obstetrics & Gynecology, University of North Carolina
  • , Nae-Yuh WangAffiliated withDepartment of Medicine, Johns Hopkins UniversityDepartment of Biostatistics, Johns Hopkins University
  • , Frederick L. BrancatiAffiliated withDepartment of Medicine, Johns Hopkins UniversityDepartment of Epidemiology, Johns Hopkins University

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Our objective was to test the hypothesis that intrauterine exposure to gestational diabetes [GDM] predicts childhood growth independent of the effect on infant birthweight. We conducted a prospective analysis of 28,358 mother-infant pairs who enrolled in the National Collaborative Perinatal Project between 1959 and 1965. The offspring were followed until age 7. Four hundred and eighty-four mothers (1.7%) had GDM. The mean birthweight was 3.2 kg (range 1.1–5.6 kg). Maternal characteristics (age, education, race, family income, pre-pregnancy body mass index and pregnancy weight gain) and measures of childhood growth (birthweight, weight at ages 4, and 7) differed significantly by GDM status (all P < 0.05). As expected, compared to their non-diabetic counterparts, mothers with GDM gave birth to offspring that had higher weights at birth. The offspring of mothers with GDM were larger at age 7 as indicated by greater weight, BMI and BMI z-score compared to the offspring of mothers without GDM at that age (all P < 0.05). These differences at age 7 persisted even after adjustment for infant birthweight. Furthermore, the offspring of mothers with GDM had a 61% higher odds of being overweight at age 7 compared to the offspring of mothers without GDM after adjustment for maternal BMI, pregnancy weight gain, family income, race and birthweight [OR = 1.61 (95%CI:1.07, 1.28)]. Our results indicate that maternal GDM status is associated with offspring overweight status during childhood. This relationship is only partially mediated by effects on birthweight.


Gestational diabetes Childhood growth Body mass index