(HealthDay News) — In-utero exposure to gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM) increases the likelihood of developing diabetes or prediabetes among obese adolescents, according to a study published online Aug. 25 in Diabetologia.

Tara Holder, from Yale University in New Haven, CT, and colleagues evaluated 255 obese adolescents with normal glucose tolerance. All of them were assessed for exposure in utero to GDM. All underwent an oral glucose tolerance test, which was repeated after approximately 2.8 years.

The researchers found that most participants (210) were not exposed to GDM (NGDM group), while 45 were exposed to GDM (EGDM group). Impaired glucose tolerance (IGT) or type 2 diabetes developed in 8.6% of the NGDM group, compared to 31.1% of the EGDM group (P<0.001). The most significant predictor of developing IGT or type 2 diabetes was exposure to GDM (odds ratio, 5.75; P<0.001). The EGDM group showed a reduction in beta cell function determined by the oral disposition index at baseline and at follow-up (P=0.03 and 0.01, respectively). At follow-up, the EGDM group also showed a reduction in insulin sensitivity compared to the NGDM group (P=0.05).

“Obese youth exposed in utero to GDM show early inability of the beta cell to compensate adequately in response to decreasing levels of insulin sensitivity,” the authors write.

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