British Journal of Nutrition

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British Journal of Nutrition (2010), 104:775-787 Cambridge University Press
Copyright © The Author 2010

Review Article

Gestational diabetes: risk factors and recent advances in its genetics and treatment

Clive J. Petrya1 c1

a1 Department of Paediatrics, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, UK
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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.

(Received September 17 2009)

(Revised March 08 2010)

(Accepted March 22 2010)

(Online publication May 21 2010)

Key Words:Pregnancy; Fetal growth; Glycaemic index


c1 Corresponding author: Dr Clive J. Petry, fax +44 1223 336996, email


Abbreviations: GDM, gestational diabetes; GI, glycaemic index; HLA, human leucocyte antigen